Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Broaden COMESA Free Trade Area: President Mugabe of Zimbabwe Tells Regional Summit in Swaziland

Broaden Comesa FTA: President

From Tumeliso Makhurane at LOZITHA PALACE, Swaziland
Zimbabwe Herald

PRESIDENT Mugabe has urged the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa to broaden its Free Trade Area to take on board other regional blocs and move away from exporting primary products in favour of processed goods.

In his keynote address as the outgoing Comesa Authority chairman, the President said it was important "to establish not just another FTA, but a grand and wider one covering half the continent of Africa".

He said Comesa was committed to the tripartite arrangements with the East African Community, and Sadc that were established in 2005 in line with Comesa’s vision of economic integration.

"Given our decade of experience in operating duty-free, quota-free trade regime in Comesa, and given the benefits that our member states have derived and witnessed under our own FTA over the last decade, we are keen that the tripartite FTA be established as soon as possible," he said.

He said it was encouraging that Comesa had moved from preferential arrangements to a fully developed FTA where trade was done free of duty and trade barriers among member countries with the resultant intra-Comesa trade rising over 500 percent from under US$3 billion in the year 2000 to over US$15 billion last year.

"It is perhaps worth noting and reiterating that, while we export commodities to the rest of the world and import finished goods, trade among ourselves under the Comesa FTA has mostly been in agro-processed and semi-manufactured products.

"Greater efforts still need to be deployed towards trade in commodities within the region, to move away from primary production to enhanced value addition to these commodities so that we create more job opportunities and effectively contribute to reducing poverty and concurrently raise incomes of our citizens," said President Mugabe.

The President said in agriculture and industrial development, positive strides had been made by such member countries as Malawi, Zambia, Sudan and Egypt to produce staple food such as maize, rice and sugar in excess of their countries’ needs.

The increased production levels, he said, had not only contributed to food security, self-sufficiency and increased commodity exports within and beyond the region but increased linkages with agro-processing and value addition across the region.

Closer interaction of the Comesa business opportunity had been facilitated through platforms such as the Comesa Business Forum.

"I am again delighted to note that we have streamlined customs procedures and practices culminating in the establishment of a one-stop border post at Chirundu on the Zimbabwe-Zambia border.

"Efforts are also underway to establish similar trade facilitation initiatives located at other borders, including at Kaumbalesa on the Zambia-DRC border, at Nakonde on the Tanzania-Zambia border, at Malaba on the Ugandan-Kenya border and at Mchinji on the Malawi-Zambia border, just to mention a few," President Mugabe said.

On infrastructural development, the Comesa Transport and Communications Strategy and Priority Investment Plan and the Comesa Infrastructure Fund had been set up to provide a base for mobilising investment resources for infrastructure and services to increase regional connectivity and networks integration in the Comesa region.

Cde Mugabe noted, however, that trade in services had lagged behind in trade liberalisation.

Services contribute between 15 percent and 65 percent of National Gross Domestic Products.

"Services such as tourism, telecommunications, finance, construction, transport, whether land, air or maritime, and educational and health services, can significantly raise economic activity and the well-being of our people."

President Mugabe said to support such trade initiatives, there was need to put in place sustainable funding arrangements with the proposed Common Market Levy being one of the examples.

He urged member states to consider such a levy to fund the operations of the Customs Union and related integration programmes.

"Being part of the competing global economy, we cannot wholly depend on co-operating partners to fund our integration arrangements. For our programmes to be sustainable, we need to negotiate specific user-friendly arrangements, be it with the EU under Economic Partnership Agreements, or the rest of the world under the World Trade Organisation," said the President.

On peace and security, the President said Comesa had made tremendous progress in its quest for peace and stability in the region with conflicts in central Africa and parts of the Horn of Africa having been resolved through peace processes. Focus was now on post-conflict reconstruction and reconciliation efforts.

Though challenges still remained, efforts were being put in place to stem conflict through a policy organ of Ministers of Foreign Affairs who were taking a pro-active approach to prevention of violent conflicts. A Conflict Early Warning System and a Committee of Elders for preventive diplomacy had also been put in place.

Zimbabwe: Whose Country Is It Anyway?

Whose country is it anyway?

Courtesy of the Zimbabwe Herald

MARY MAGDALENE, one of the most unheralded biblical characters is ironically at the centre of the Christianity that spawned the Bible. For it was from Mary Magdalene’s visit to Jesus’ tomb that the world got to know that the Messiah had triumphed over death.

Mary Magdalene was not only the first to witness the resurrected Christ, she was also the first to preach the resurrection to the apostles which is why much of the gospels are attributed to her testimony, which testimony became the bedrock of Christianity.

At the centre of Christianity, of course, is the remission of sins, manifest in being born again where the old life is deemed to have passed away for a new, apparently squeaky clean one to begin in Christ.

It appears that to some of our neophytes in politics here, their sojourn to State House on February 13 last year for swearing-in was the equivalent of being born again, where their history of colluding with Westerners against their own people passed away and they emerged as born-again, patriotic Zimbabweans fit to be among cadres that venerated commanders like Josiah Magama Tongogara and Alfred Nikita Mangena would proudly inspect if they were to rise up today.

These characters; among them ex-Rhodesian Front, Rhodesian African Rifles and Selous Scouts members; apparently believe they can be counted among the bones that Mbuya Nehanda foretold would rise as she was led to the gallows by the same forces bankrolling the MDC today, which bones rose amid strong opposition from some of the MDC top brass.

I will not burden you with the names dear reader, for they are too many to mention but MDC leaders and their handlers seem to be on a campaign to rewrite our history to portray a nation as old as February 13, 2010.

For the record, the MDC was launched as a knee-jerk reaction to the Zanu-PF led government’s move to acquire white-held farmers without compensation following the decision by the Labour regime of Tony Blair to renege on obligations to fund land reforms in Zimbabwe.

The three main British parties; Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats then got together as the Westminster Foundation and agreed to launch the MDC on a ZCTU platform; the party’s primary objective being to unseat Zanu-PF and kill the impending land reforms.

This is why from launch MDC leaders have opposed land reforms, only grudgingly accepting them in the text of the so-called GPA that gave birth to the inclusive Government.

The MDC was not launched to fight Zanu-PF the party, but the logical conclusion of the Second Chimurenga manifest in taking the liberation struggle from the political to the economic dimension.

The MDC’s reactionary nature explains why the party had no problems attracting and filling its ranks with ex-Rhodesian Front, Rhodesian African Rifles, Selous Scouts, Special Branch and BSAP operatives for their mission in the MDC was just a continuation of their mission in the Rhodesian Security Forces.

Out of the realisation that Zanu-PF was entrenched in the hearts of Zimbabweans, the MDC and its handlers settled on economic sanctions to bring socio-economic hardships that were designed to separate the people from Zanu-PF. As any sane person knows, sanctions are a form of economic warfare; as such the MDC was complicit in declaring war against the people.

Therefore what MDC leaders have done and willed on Zimbabweans can never be considered heroic; it’s treasonous which is why it came as a surprise that Tsvangirai would have the temerity to write to President Mugabe seeking National Hero Status for Gibson Sibanda, may his soul rest in peace.

Ofcourse, Tsvangirai is not God’s gift to logical thought but short of mischief, I do not see any other word to describe his charade. Unless of course he wanted to lay his own groundwork, for if Sibanda were to be declared a national hero on the back of his ZCTU and MDC record, surely, Tsvangirai, who was with him throughout, would also be declared a hero.

The question then becomes; since those in the MDC have been fighting Zanu-PF from inception what would that make of Zanu-PF if the MDC cause was to be considered progressive and the party leadership’s actions heroic? The anti-thesis of a hero is a villain, so if Tsvangirai and Sibanda are heroes, it follows that all in Zanu-PF are villains, and their cause was and is villainous.

That will mean the thousands of patriots who perished from the day the Pioneer Column hoisted the Union Jack at Fort Salisbury on September 12, 1890 were all villains, Alfred Milner, the British High Commissioner to the Cape Colony, who ordered Mbuya Nehanda’s execution was a hero executing a villain, Morrison Nyathi who connived with the Smith regime to murder innocent men, women and children in Chimoio was a hero murdering villains. The history of our beautiful country will truly become the history of the white man in Africa.

MDC leaders have to be told in no uncertain terms that the National Heroes Acre is not for everybody. It is for those who distinguished themselves in liberating this country, and those people can only be found in the ranks of the former liberation movements Zanla and Zipra that came together under Zanu-PF.

These are the people who know what went on in the bush, and who distinguished themselves not Tsvangirai who was working in the textile mills of Mutare and the mine shafts of Bindura having lasted no more than 24 hours in a liberation training camp, or Mutambara who still had milk on his baby nose on April 18, 1980.

Now to the other issues;

MDC leaders, particularly those from Tsvangirai’s camp, should know that Zimbabwe can never sanction its own people. While they may have succeeded in inviting sanctions on this country and also having their Western handlers place all those who criticise them on sanctions lists; that can never happen here.

Tsvangirai’s party has been busy trying to silence all who see it as an ugly duckling not the beautiful swan it wants people to believe it is.

Despite all their pretensions at being democrats who uphold freedom of expression, MDC leaders have been busy trying to silence the Mbare Chimurenga Choir not only because the choir is reminding people of this country’s history of principled resistance to all forms of imperialism and neo-colonialism, but because the songs put the inclusive Government into perspective by debunking the lie that Tsvangirai is in charge, a fib the MDC hoped to use to get credit for any positives that accrue from the inclusive Government.

After failing to silence the melodious, progressive voices from Mbare, MDC leaders have turned their attention President Mugabe’s spokesman, George Charamba, whom they tried to turn into an outstanding issue and now wish to silence on the grounds that a civil servant should not dabble in politics, yet they forget that Charamba is the Presidential spokesman. How can a spokesperson for the President of the Republic be accused of dabbling in politics when the Presidency itself is a political office?

Yes they may have managed to silence Peter Mavhunga — a court probation officer and part-time newspaper columnist who has been living and working in Britain for the past 30 years — but they came unstuck on The Herald’s Australian based columnist, Reason Wafawarova, whom they tried to get deported from down under.

Wafawarova ended up laughing all the way to the bank after suing the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that had defamed him after peddling MDC falsehoods that claimed he had been involved in the rape, murder and torture of innocent people during his days in the Ministry of Youth Development and Employment Creation.

The same characters also tried it with my colleagues Munyaradzi Huni, Reuben Barwe and Judith Makwanya and I, along with my former editor at The Herald, PD, as we were all placed on Anglo-Saxon sanctions lists in a blatant attempt at mind control and censorship but the undemocratic democrats again came unstuck for the simple reason that Zimbabwe is not Europe and Europe is not Zimbabwe.

Assuming a puppeteer can credit his mannequin for moves he originates, MDC leaders may be heroes in Whitehall and the White House but they are not heroes here.

Whose country is it anyway?


More Casualties in Somalia Warfare

Several dead in Somali violence

Roadside bomb blast and mortar attack in capital Mogadishu, kills at least 14 people and injures several more.

Last Modified: 31 Aug 2010 20:42

There has been heavy fighting in Mogadishu in recent days between al-Shabab and government troops

Two violent incidents in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, have led to the deaths of at least 14 people.

Eight people were killed and 14 others wounded in a roadside bomb blast on Tuesday.

Five men and three women were killed in the explosion, Ali Muse, the head of the city's ambulance service, said.

Ahmed Adma, the driver of the bus, said that blood and body parts were scattered on the ground after the attack.

The driver lost consciousness after the explosion but was not seriously hurt.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Similar attacks have been carried out by al-Shabab, a group battling the government and linked to al-Qaeda.

In the north of the capital, six civilians were killed in a mortar shelling incident between African Union (AU) peacekeepers and al-Shabaab fighters near the main market, witnesses said.

Residential areas built near the market are often destroyed when both sides fire mortar shells leaving civilian casualties.

"A mortar landed here and the result was that two people were killed and our building totally destroyed," said Ali Dinih, who lost two of his family members and saw the destruction of his house.

Fierce fighting

There has been heavy fighting in Mogadishu in recent days between al-Shabab and government troops.

On Monday, four African Union (AU) peacekeepers were killed in the capital after al-Shabab fighters fired a mortar at the presidential palace.

The shelling of the palace continued on Tuesday.

The Red Cross said on Tuesday that the upsurge in fighting had led to the city's hospitals being in a critical state, with dozens of Somalis needing surgery.

Al-Shabab last week declared a "decisive" war against AU peacekeepers from Uganda and Burundi deployed in the city.

Uganda and Burundi have supplied more than 6,300 troops to support Somalia's Transitional Federal Government.

Al-Shabab has said that it will continue to carry out attacks in Uganda and Burundi as long as those countries provide troops for the AU peacekeeping force in Somalia.

Uganda attacks

The AU pledged last month to expand the force, with both Guinea and Djibouti promising new troops.

Al-Shabab, which has been fighting Somalia's government since 2007, recently claimed responsibility for a twin bombing attack in Uganda, which killed more than 70 people who were watching the football World Cup.

Some fear the fighting could cause the fragile government to collapse.

Somalia has not had an effective central government for nearly 20 years and al-Shabab controls significant portions of the country's south.

More than 21,000 Somalis have been killed in fighting since the start of the uprising, 1.5 million people have been uprooted from their homes and nearly half a million are sheltering in other countries in the region.

Source: Agencies

Biofuels For Europe Drive Land Grabbing in Africa

Biofuels For Europe Drive Land Grabbing In Africa

Tuesday, 31 August 2010, 11:38 am
Press Release: Akanimo Sampson

Biofuels For Europe Drive Land Grabbing In Africa

The amount of farmland being taken in Africa to meet Europe’s increasing demand for biofuels is underestimated and out of control, new investigations by Friends of the Earth reveal today.

The research, which looked at 11 African countries, found at least five million hectares of land – an area the size of Denmark – is being acquired by foreign companies to produce biofuels mainly for the European market.

The practice – known as land grabbing – is increasing and is dominated by European companies. However with official public information largely absent, current figures are likely to be only a snapshot and gross underestimates.

The report, ‘Africa: Up For Grabs’ reveals how local communities are having their land taken and there are few safeguards for local community land rights. Forests and natural vegetation are being cleared, and biofuels are competing with food crops for farmland.

Even more land will be required for biofuels if the European Union is to reach its target of 10% of transport fuels from renewable sources by 2020, according to the research.

Adrian Bebb, food and agriculture campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, said: “Our research shows that Europe’s demand for biofuels is a major driver of land grabbing in Africa. Local communities are facing increasing hunger and food insecurity just so Europe can fuel its cars. The EU must urgently scrap its biofuel policy. Europe must invest instead in environmentally friendly agriculture and decrease the energy we use for transport.”

A leaked World Bank report on wider land grabbing corroborates this pattern, stating that ‘consultations with local communities were often weak... Conflicts were common, usually over land rights.’ The World Bank has so far refused to release these controversial findings publicly.

In Tanzania , Madagascar and Ghana there have been protests following land-grabs by foreign companies.

Mariann Bassey, African food and agriculture coordinator for Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) said: “The expansion of biofuels on our continent is transforming forests and natural vegetation into fuel crops, taking away food-growing farmland from communities, and creating conflicts with local people over land ownership. We want real investment in agriculture that allows us to produce food and not fuel for foreign cars."

This is just one example of Europe’s over use of the world’s resources. Friends of the Earth Europe is calling on the EU to start measuring and curbing its use of land, water, materials, and climate emissions around the world.

China Fortifies State Businesses to Fuel Growth

August 29, 2010

China Fortifies State Businesses to Fuel Growth

New York Times

BEIJING — During its decades of rapid growth, China thrived by
allowing once-suppressed private entrepreneurs to prosper, often at
the expense of the old, inefficient state sector of the economy.

Now, whether in the coal-rich regions of Shanxi Province, the steel
mills of the northern industrial heartland, or the airlines flying
overhead, it is often China’s state-run companies that are on the

As the Chinese government has grown richer — and more worried about sustaining its high-octane growth — it has pumped public money into companies that it expects to upgrade the industrial base and employ more people. The beneficiaries are state-owned interests that many analysts had assumed would gradually wither away in the face of private-sector competition.

New data from the World Bank show that the proportion of industrial
production by companies controlled by the Chinese state edged up last
year, checking a slow but seemingly inevitable eclipse. Moreover,
investment by state-controlled companies skyrocketed, driven by
hundreds of billions of dollars of government spending and state bank
lending to combat the global financial crisis.

They join a string of other signals that are fueling discussion among
analysts about whether China, which calls itself socialist but is
often thought of in the West as brutally capitalist, is in fact
seeking to enhance government control over some parts of the economy.

The distinction may matter more today than it once did. China
surpassed Japan to become the world’s second-largest economy this
year, and its state-directed development model is enormously appealing to poor countries. Even in the West, many admire China’s ability to build a first-world infrastructure and transform its cities into

Once eager to learn from the United States, China’s leaders during the
financial crisis have reaffirmed their faith in their own more statist
approach to economic management, in which private capitalism plays
only a supporting role.

“The socialist system’s advantages,” Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said in a March address, “enable us to make decisions efficiently, organize
effectively and concentrate resources to accomplish large undertakings.”

State vs. Private

The issue of state versus private control is a slippery one in China.
After decades of economic reform, many big state-owned companies face real competition and are expected to operate profitably. The biggest private companies often get their financing from state banks,
coordinate their investments with the government and seat their chief
executives on government advisory panels.

Chinese leaders also no longer publicly emphasize sharp ideological
distinctions about ownership. But they never relaxed state control
over some sectors considered strategically vital, including finance,
defense, energy, telecommunications, railways and ports.

Mr. Wen and President Hu Jintao are also seen as less attuned to the
interests of foreign investors and China’s own private sector than the
earlier generation of leaders who pioneered economic reforms. They
prefer to enhance the clout and economic reach of state-backed
companies at the top of the pecking order.

“China’s always had a major industrial policy. But for a space of a
few years, it looked like China was turning away from an active and
interventionist industrial policy in favor of a more hands-off
approach,” Victor Shih, a Northwestern University political scientist,
said in a recent telephone interview.

Mr. Shih, among others, now believes that the 1980s reforms that
unleashed China’s private sector and the 1990s reforms that dismantled great sections of the state-run sector are being partly undone.

“The problem is that the reforms of the first 20 years, from 1978 to
the end of the ’90s, actually did not touch on the power of the
government,” said Yao Yang, a Peking University professor who heads
the China Center for Economic Research. “So after the other reforms
were finished, you actually find the government is expanding, because
there is no check and balance on its power.”

Divining Government’s Role

There are no comprehensive statistics to catalog the government’s
influence over the economy. So the shift is partly inferred from
coarse measures like the share of financing in the economy provided by state banks, which rose sharply during the financial crisis, or the
list of the 100 largest publicly listed Chinese companies, all but one
of which are majority state owned.

The statistic showing an uptick in the share of industrial production
attributable to the state sector is regarded by some analysts as a
blip rather than the start of a trend. The World Bank’s senior
economist in Beijing, Louis Kuijs, said the state sector’s unusually
rapid growth will most likely moderate with the ending of the
government’s stimulus spending.

“As the growth process normalizes again, the traditional trend toward
a declining SOE share will take over again,” he wrote in an e-mail
message, using the shorthand for state-owned enterprise. “I don’t
think that the senior leaders had a strategy of reversing this trend.”

But others argue that officials had always intended to create a
vibrant state sector that would tower above the private sector in
important industries, even as they sold off or shut down money-losing
state enterprises that drained capital from the government budget and
banking system.

Recent alarm over the expanding role of the state, said Arthur Kroeber
of Dragonomics, an economic forecasting firm based in Beijing, is
mostly “perception catching up with reality.”

In some ways, the differences in this debate are small. Everyone
agrees that China runs a bifurcated economy: at one level, a robust
and competitive private sector dominates industries like
factory-assembled exports, clothing and food. And at higher levels
like finance, communications, transportation, mining and metals — the
so-called commanding heights — the central government claims majority ownership and a measure of management control.

Yet the two camps’ view of China’s future are markedly different.
Those who see little evidence of an expanding state sector generally
believe that China has a decade or more of robust growth awaiting it
before its economy matures. Theirs is a Goldilocks view of state
intervention — not too much or too little, but just enough to push a
developing economy toward prosperity.

The skeptics have a darker view: they believe distortions and waste,
in no small part due to government meddling, have resulted in gross
misallocation of capital and will end up pushing growth rates down
well before 2020. What drives their pessimism, the skeptics say, is
that China, like Japan a generation ago, has too much confidence in a
top-down economic strategy that defies conventional Western theory.

The skeptics also point to what they say is the growing political and
financial influence of China’s state-owned giants — 129 huge
conglomerates that answer directly to the central government, and
thousands of smaller ones run by the provinces and cities.

While no public breakdown exists, most experts say the vast bulk of
the 4 trillion renminbi ($588 billion) stimulus package that China
pumped out for new highways, railroads and other big projects went to
state-owned companies. Some of the largest companies used the flood of money to strengthen their dominance in their current markets or to enter new ones.

In the last year or so, many of the 129 central government companies
have moved forcefully into China’s real-estate industry, with hundreds
of billions of dollars in construction projects and land deals.
State-owned steel giants have cut deals to buy out more profitable and
often more efficient private competitors. A host of government
conglomerates have snapped up coal mining companies in Shanxi

“In 2009, there was a huge expansion of the government role in the
corporate sector,” Huang Yasheng, a leading analyst of China-style
capitalism at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in a
telephone interview. “They’re producing yogurt. They’re into real
estate. Some of the upstream state-owned enterprises are now expanding downstream, organizing themselves as vertical units. They’re just operating on a much larger scale.”

Local Interests

At the local level, governments set up 8,000 state-owned investment
companies in 2009 alone to channel government dollars into business
and industrial ventures, Mr. Huang said. One example suffices: a
private Chinese automaker, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, made
worldwide headlines in March when it agreed to buy Sweden’s Volvo
marque from Ford. Much of the $1.5 billion purchase price came not
from Geely’s relatively modest profits, but from local governments in
northeast China and the Shanghai area.

Geely reciprocated this month, announcing that it will build its Volvo
headquarters and an assembly plant in a Shanghai industrial district.

The reasons for the state’s push for greater involvement in business
vary. State control of energy supplies is crucial to China’s growth,
and the Shanxi coal takeovers will increase production, guarantee fuel
to some state-owned utilities and give Beijing new power to control
coal prices. State mining companies also argue that they have a
superior safety record to their accident-prone private competitors.

But in other areas the state looks more mercenary.

Take telecommunications. Upon joining the World Trade Organization,
China committed itself to opening its communications market to foreign
joint ventures for local and international phone service, e-mail,
paging and other businesses. But after eight years, no licenses have
been granted — largely, the United States says, because capital
requirements, regulatory hurdles and other barriers have made such
ventures impractical. Today, basic telecommunications in China are
booming, and are virtually 100 percent state-controlled.

Take the passenger airline industry. Six years ago, the central
government invited private investors to enter the business. By 2006,
eight private carriers had sprung up to challenge the three
state-controlled majors, Air China, China Southern and China Eastern.

The state airlines immediately began a price war. The state-owned
monopoly that provided jet fuel refused to service private carriers on
the same generous terms given the big three. China’s only computerized reservation system — currently one-third owned by the three state airlines — refused to book flights for private competitors. And when mismanagement and the 2008 economic crisis drove the three majors into financial straits, the central government bought stock to bail them out: about $1 billion for China Eastern; $430 million for China Southern; $220 million for Air China.

One private passenger carrier that remains is Spring Airlines, a
tenacious startup run by a founder so frugal that he shares a
100-square-foot office with his chief executive and takes the subway
to business meetings.

That founder, Wang Zhenghua, survived in part by building his own
computer reservation system. He canceled a planned interview. But in
Chinese news reports, he was caustic about the state subsidies given
his competitors. “Now with the injection of 10 billion yuan” for China
Eastern and China Southern, “everything is in chaos,” he told Biz
Review, a Chinese magazine.

China’s private entrepreneurs have a catchphrase for such maneuvers:
“guo jin, min tui,” or “the state advances, the private sector

State-owned enterprises in China have taken the best of the economy
for themselves, “leaving the private sector drinking the soup while
the state enterprises are eating the meat,” Cai Hua, the vice director
of a chamber-of-commerce-style organization in Zhejiang Province, said in an interview.

First in Line

Mr. Cai says he believes that China needs government-run industries to compete globally and manage the country’s domestic development. But locally, he said, their advantages — being first in line for financing
by state banks, first in line for state bailouts when they get in
trouble, first in line for the stimulus gusher — have created a
“profound inequality” with private competitors.

Some analysts argue that the state-owned conglomerates, built with
state money and favors into global competitors, have now become
political power centers in their own right, able to fend off even
Beijing’s efforts to rein them in.

Of the 129 major state enterprises, more than half the chairmen and
chairwomen and more than one-third of the chief executive officers
were appointed by the central organization department of the Communist Party. A score or more serve on the party’s Central Committee, which elects the ruling Politburo. They control not just the lifeblood of China’s economy, but a corporate patronage system that dispenses top-paying executive jobs to relatives of the party’s leading lights.

China’s leaders have sought occasionally in the past year to curb
speculative excesses by state-controlled businesses in real estate,
lending and other areas. In May the State Council, a top-level policy
body sometimes likened to the cabinet in the United States, issued
orders to give private companies a better shot at government contracts
— for roads and bridges, finance and even military work — that now go
almost exclusively to state-owned companies. Virtually the same rules
were issued five years ago, to little effect.

Yet it is hard to argue with success, other economists say, and
China’s success speaks well of its top-down strategy. Asian
powerhouses like South Korea and Japan built their modern economies with strong state help. Many economists agree that shrewd state management can be better than market forces in getting a developing nation on its feet.

Experts on both sides of the debate have but two questions. One is how much longer state control of vast areas of the economy will generate that growth.

The other is whether, should that strategy stop working, China will be
able to change it.

Li Bibo contributed research.

Fidel Castro Makes a Return Visit to the National Aquarium in Cuba

Fidel makes a return visit to the National Aquarium

THIS Monday, 45 days following his last visit, Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro returned to the National Aquarium together with U.S. journalist Jeffrey Goldberg, who writes for The Atlantic Monthly magazine; academic expert Julia Sweig, an associate of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations (CFR); and Adela Dworin, president of the Hebrew Community of Cuba.

Fidel had invited them to watch the fabulous underwater dolphin performance in the aquarium, after he granted an interview on Sunday to the U.S. journalist, an expert on Middle East issues and particularly on Israel.

The directorate of this scientific and recreational facility welcomed the visitors and explained details of their work, the exquisite care given to the animals, the characteristics of dolphins, the use of female animals in the shows because they are more disciplined, the methods used to determine the age of the dolphins, the communication established with them via caresses, and other scientific themes of interest.

Fidel and his guests enjoyed the show, which has been constantly renewed since it began more than five years ago, and then congratulated the young dolphin trainers who perform underwater choreography together with these beautiful marine mammals. The U.S. guests admired the quality of the presentation and described it as a unique experience.

During the visit to the Aquarium there was also a moment for Fidel and his guests to discuss international news. The leader of the Revolution’s visit to Cuban Hebrew Community on December 20, 1998 was recalled; there were references to the interview Fidel gave to the Mexican daily La Jornada (published today); and comments on the launch of his book La victoria estratégica in Venezuela, and its upcoming launch in Bolivia by Comandante Guillermo García Frías.

At the end of the meeting, the Comandante en Jefe presented the visitors with autographed copies of his book, souvenir pictures of the Aquarium visit and photos of the interview the day before. Fidel also gave Jeffrey Goldberg, who likes baseball and coaches a little league team on which his son plays, a Cuban baseball team cap and a baseball signed by members of the national team and stars like Omar Linares, Germán Mesa and Orestes Kindelán.

Translated by Granma International

South African Public Sector Strike Enters Third Week

South African Public Sector Strike Enters Third Week

Mining, retail workers threaten to enter dispute if resolution is not reached soon

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

1.3 million workers in the Republic of South Africa are continuing to strike after the failure of the government to meet their wage demands for an 8.6 percent increase in pay and a housing allowance of R1000 ($US 170) per month. Other sectors of the economy may soon be impacted as the unions representing mining and retail are threatening to join the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) that represents the majority of workers embroiled in this protracted labor dispute.

President Jacob Zuma of the ruling African National Congress has ordered his top level ministers to return to the negotiating table with a mandate to work out a settlement to end the strike. The unions walked off the job on August 18 after talks with the government collapsed.

The strike has closed down schools throughout the country as well as severely hampered the ability of hospitals and other public health services from functioning. The government ordered the military into the hospitals to provide basic services and to handle maintenance.

Mass demonstrations by the striking workers and other unions initially resulted in clashes between the police and protesters. The strike has escalated the debate over economic policy within the Tripartite Alliance composed of the ruling ANC party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), which both SADTU and NEHAWU are affiliated , as well as the South African Communist Party (SACP).

Membership and leadership within all three organizations within the Tripartite Alliance overlap. The secretary generals of the ANC and COSATU are also leading members of the SACP.

COSATU welcomed the new initiative to settle the strike by President Zuma. COSATU said in a statement on August 30 that “The federation hopes that an improved offer will now be tabled and that the strike can be settled as quickly as possible, through an agreement that is acceptable to the workers.” (Mail & Guardian, August 30)

The government has offered a 7 percent wage increase and a R700 housing allowance for the workers. Zuma is quite concerned about the long term implications of the strike since his government relied heavily upon the trade unions to secure its overwhelming victory in the 2009 national elections that brought the current administration to power with a mandate to increase public spending and to directly address the concerns of the working class.

South African Minister of Labor Membathisi Mdladlana stated that “the most senior commissioners of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) would work to resolve the dispute. “The minister has emphasized that the strike is a dispute between the employer and its employees and a collective bargaining matter which should only be resolved through collective bargaining.” (Mail & Guardian, August 30)

Other Unions Pledge to Join Strike

A number of unions have threatened to join the strike in a one-day solidarity action scheduled for September 2 if there is no resolution to the workers’ demands. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), one of the largest industrial organizations in the country, issued a statement on August 27 saying that they would temporarily stop work if a settlement is not reached.

“The NUM fully supports the public sector strike and would next week Thursday ensure that every mining operation, every construction site and every energy worker joins the public sector strike in different forms. Mineworkers are angry that when their servants, the public sector workers ask for a mere pittance, they are met with resistance and threatened with dismissals by those in power. Our members are angry that when their counterparts ask for a thousand rand housing allowance, they are met with resistance.” (NUM Statement, August 27, published on cosatu.org.za website)

This statement of solidarity from NUM coincides with other labor struggles taking place within various sectors of the economy, which is the most industrialized in Africa. The National Union of Metalworkers in South Africa (NUMSA), which represents 70,000 people employed in garages, components, workshops and automotive sectors held a march on August 28 in the city of Sandton, located in Guateng Province. The march was designed to pressure the bosses within the motor industry to agree to the workers’ demands for wage increases and improved conditions of employment.

In addition to the automotive sector, the unions representing workers in the retail industry have also threatened to hold strikes against the lowering of wages and the decline in working conditions. The South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (SACCAWU) in a statement pledged solidarity with the public sector unions and announced its participation in the September 2 general strike if the dispute is not settled.

SACCAWU said that “The Union has observed and experienced some disturbing trends in Industrial Relations within the wholesale and retail sector over the last few years. The Union has warned of “Walmartisation” of the sector some two years ago.” (SACCAWU Statement, August 30, published on the cosatu.org.za website)

The statement continues saying that “Walmartisation has now entered a new phase characterized by super-profit driven unilateral restructuring, unilateral termination of collective agreements as well as an intransigent attitude which rears its ugly head during wage negotiations. Like organized workers in other sectors of the economy, Union members within the wholesale and retail sectors are more than ready to take the bull by its horns as they are no longer prepared to tolerate arrogance that has been displayed by various employers who treat workers and the Union with contempt in their drive for super-profits.”

In several cities located in the Eastern Cape including Port Elizabeth, East London, Queenstown, Grahamstown, Jeffreys Bay and King Williams Town there has been a strike against Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) Corporation since August 19. The Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU) has said that “Employees have initially demanded a 13th cheque, a guaranteed 40-hr week with no loss of pay and a 12 percent wage increase, but are prepared to take a ten percent offer at this stage.” (FAWU Statement, August 30, published on the cosatu.org.za website)

The FAWU statement continues saying that “These employees are on their feet the whole day and at least deserve to earn a decent paycheck at the end of the month. No one should live on 250.00 rand per week in these trying times. We believe social responsibility starts at home so KFC step up and give your employees a living wage!”

There has even been speculation that soldiers within the armed forces may join the strike. However, members of the South African Security Forces Union (SASFU) will not join the public sector work stoppage according to union president Bhekinkosi Mvovo on August 29. “We will not join the strike because of the Constitutional Court ruling of 1999, which prohibits soldiers from striking.” (Mail & Guardian, August 30)

Policy Debates Continue Amid Global Economic Crisis

The current labor strife in South Africa has intensified the debates within the various organizations that constitute the leadership of the national democratic revolution that won state power in 1994 with the ascendancy of the ruling African National Congress as the dominant political force within the legislature and the executive branch of government. The former racist apartheid regime collapse as a result of popular, armed and labor struggles that culminated during the period between 1976 and 1994.

South African Communist Party General Secretary and Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande said on August 29 in response to the current strike that “The wage gap in the public sector between the highest paid and the lowest paid is 91 to one.” Nzimande called for the government and the public sector unions to resolve the strike as soon as possible so that economic policy issues can be addressed on a national level.

“The longer it is prolonged, the more everyone suffers and the danger of unbridgeable positions becoming entrenched increases. Nzimande condemned acts of violence that have taking place during the strike saying that “These forms of gross indiscipline detract from the legitimacy of the struggle and divides rather than unites the working class.” (Mail & Guardian, August 29)

In a statement issued by the SACP Central Committee on August 30 the party encouraged both the ANC government and the public sector unions to work towards comprehensive agreements that would guide relations in the future. “Whatever the outcomes of the present strike, the ANC-led Alliance partners need to sit down, engage frankly with each other, and anaylse the reasons for these destructive and all too frequent stand-offs in which neither the unions nor government necessarily emerge with enhanced popular credibility.” (SACP Central Committee Statement, August 30)

Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma has recently returned from a state visit to the People’s Republic of China where high level discussions resulted in the strengthening of relations between the ANC and the Communist Party of China. According to the Mail & Guardian, “The ANC has long had friendly ties with the CCP but since the ANC’s Polokwane conference it has stepped up the pace in fostering a closer relationship.” (Mail & Guardian, August 27)

The article continues by pointing out that “South Africa is one of three countries with which China has signed a comprehensive strategy partnership covering the protection of investments, trade and economic cooperation, double tax avoidance, housing, agriculture, human resource development, police cooperation, civil air transportation, scientific and technological exchanges, water, sport and arts and culture.”

Various African states have increased their ties with the PRC amid the worsening economic crisis facing the capitalist world. As the decline in employment and wages continue in both the Western industrialized countries and the underdeveloped regions of the world, workers and the oppressed will seek alternatives to the imperialist states as it relates to both international trade and domestic policy.

Diamond Body Defies Sanctions Against Zimbabwe

Diamond body defies sanctions

By Takunda Maodza
Zimbabwe Herald

Visiting Antwerp World Diamond Centre senior officials have distanced
themselves from the political stand-off between Zimbabwe and Belgium, saying they are only interested in seeing Harare benefit from its gems.

The group has offered technical assistance to the local diamond industry.

Belgium — a leading international diamond trading centre — is part of
the 27-member European Union bloc that has imposed illegal sanctions on Zimbabwe.

The four-member delegation, led by an official from the Belgian
Embassy in South Africa, had a brief meeting with Mines and Mining
Development Minister Obert Mpofu at his offices in Harare yesterday.

The delegation comprised of Antwerp World Diamond Centre chief
executive Mr Freddy Hanard and his deputy Mr Ari Epstein.

Minister Mpofu said: "The EU has been on the forefront of applying
sanctions on us.

"This visit is an attempt by Belgian people to show their support for
Zimbabwe as businesspeople as opposed to politicians," he said.

The minister said people were beginning to see the irrelevance of
sanctions against Zimbabwe.

"These are top guys from the Antwerp and they are going to meet
players in the diamond industry and Government officials," he said.

Mr Hanard said the group was in Zimbabwe on a business mission.

"We are not politicians. We are not here to say what you are doing is
good or bad. We are here to assist," he said.

He was at pains to explain that they were not in violation of the EU
sanctions by working with Zimbabwe.

Mr Hanard is the former CEO of Holland’s ABN Amro Bank, the largest
funder of the diamond industry.

Mr Epstein yesterday said: "We are representatives of Antwerp, the
largest diamond centre in the world. It is normal that we establish

"We have a 500-year-old heritage of dealing in diamonds and it is
important that this knowledge is shared between the people that trade
and those with the product.

"We have experience in all areas."

He said Antwerp deals with 1 800 diamond dealers and has a daily
turnover of US$200 million.

"We have developed in the last 56 years in diamond trading and that
will help in structuring any diamond trading business most efficiently
and in a transparent manner.

"It is important that Zimbabwe gets the best price for its diamonds,"
Mr Hanard said.

Mr Hanard, who repeatedly remarked how much Zimbabwe had impressed him, said another high-powered delegation from Antwerp would visit the country between September and October this year for further investment explorations.

He said Antwerp was not interested in just buying diamonds.

Antwerp is reportedly angling for a Memorandum of Understanding with
either the Government or Canadile Miners and Mbada Holdings, two of
the firms exploiting diamonds in Chiadzwa.

"We are not like any other delegation that has arrived before us. We
are here for the long-term and we want to offer things that others
have not offered before.

"We are not interested in the ‘give me diamonds and I will give you
money’ kind of relations," Mr Epstein said.

Global trade in diamonds is worth more than US$60 billion annually and Antwerp is believed to be the axis around which most of that business turns.

Mr Hanard, on the Antwerp website, describes the centre thus: "Antwerp is considerably more than just a place where diamonds are bought, sold and manufactured.

"It is the critical intersection on the world map that facilitates the
operation of the entire diamond business."

The delegation is on a three-day tour.

An Interview With Karima El-Amin on Jamil El-Amin (Formerly Known as H. Rap Brown)

New Trend Exclusive

An Interview with Karima El-Amin (Part 1 of 2)

By Nadrat Siddique

The Fourth of July is my birthday. Each year, I seek an activity which expounds on Frederick Douglass' renowned musing "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July" and my social consciousness as a Muslim. This Fourth, I visited Atlanta to run the Peachtree 10K race, the nation's largest 10K (it boasts 50,000 participants) and to interview Karima El-Amin, wife of Imam Jamil El-Amin (formerly H. Rap Brown).

Imam Jamil El-Amin is one of America's foremost political prisoners, currently being held at the infamous high security prison in Florence, Colorado. I felt his case had received a degree of exposure, at least by independent Islamic media, but that far less was known about his wife and partner in the struggle, an activist in her own right.

Karima El-Amin graciously granted me an interview at short notice, even though it meant according me her scant leisure time (the holiday was one of those rare occasions on which she closed her law office). I was to meet her soon after my race. When I called to confirm the details of our meeting, she expressed concern for my condition. Was I too tired and dehydrated after the race, being unaccustomed to Atlanta weather? And did I require more time to rest before our meeting? I was reminded of Imam Jamil, whose self-less concern for his visitors to the prison even while he himself was being subjected to daily humiliation at the hands of prison guards was fabled. And she insisted she would drive to my hotel so that I would not have to attempt to navigate unfamiliar territory. We agreed to hold the interview in my hotel room.

She entered the room, a slender, bespectacled woman, with quiet manner and majestic bearing, dressed modestly in light green hijab. But, as she began to speak, I realized this was easily the most eloquent, self-confident, and politically aware Muslim woman I'd encountered. She was clearly very seeped in Islamic faith; indeed, it may have been what allowed her (and hence her family) to survive the incredible trials they'd experienced; yet she was not ostentatious with her Arabic, nor haughty or judgmental of me or others.

Q: How did you meet Imam Jamil, and what attracted you to him initially?

I met him July 31, 1967. I remember that day because it was the first day I had a job. I had just graduated from the State University of Oswego. I was there four years. I majored in English with the aim of teaching K - 9th grades.

Imam Jamil walked into the job. He was staying with my supervisor. The job was on 135th Street, in Harlem. It was with Job Corps. I thought I'd keep the job a while.

The Imam walked in. At the time, he had a cadre of bodyguards. He was meeting Minister Farrakhan, so he asked the supervisor "See if she'll go to lunch with us." I was the only female at a big table of only brothers. I remember it was a big, big table, and we got back to the job at 5 PM.

That evening, Nina Simone was performing. She had invited Imam Jamil. In later years, he kept in touch with her. She autographed a photo for him that night, which I still have.

Q: Tell me about yourself and your background.

A. My grandmother and mother were Canadian. In 1929, my grandmother brought my mother, her sister, and one of her brothers to the U.S. after divorcing my grandfather. They were deported, and then returned. Then, in 1938, my grandmother went before a judge to ask for her citizenship. In 1942, while my grandmother was living in Los Angeles, Immigration denied her case. By 1942, my mother's sister had married. Her husband was in the entertainment business, and his father wrote "Dark Town Strutters Ball." She was a little activist and traveled broadly.

My mother lived in the building where La Guardia, Duke Ellington, and other musicians lived on Fifth Avenue in New York. My father was from the U.S. (from Virginia), and was in the navy. He and my mother married in 1942, and I was born years later in New York.

We moved to Riverton, built and owned by Metropolitan Life Assurance, in Harlem on Fifth Avenue. It was built mainly for African Americans so that we would not reside in the company's other private developments built for Europeans.

In fact, my mother and father were considering being part of a class action suit to challenge the discriminatory practices of the company. Nevertheless, my parents moved to Riverton where I went to school in Harlem. and my mother was involved in the PTA.

My mother was involved in the PTA fighting zoning issues, and that was the first time the FBI came to the house. They thought the communists must be behind this, and we thought they were going to take our mother away.

My mother is from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. We would go back and forth to Canada to visit our grandfather, our aunts and uncles, and cousins. My father didn't want to tell a fib, so when they asked him is everyone in the car a U.S. citizen, he would just nod his head.

We're actually the descendents of runaway slaves. My sister and cousins are being tested to determine where we are from, but so far Spain, Portugal, and Europe are coming up, and not Africa. So, my family members still are exploring further testing.

My mother, after 30 years of being a housewife, went for a job with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Thurgood Marshall was the head of it. He wanted her to be in charge of payroll. To do this, she had to be bonded. Thurgood Marshall sponsored my mother to this end. I became the baby sitter for Thurgood Marshall and various African American judges and attorneys of the Legal Defense Fund.

I remember that my mother would tell my friends to put their dresses on so we could go to the Apollo. During the intermission, she had us walk around with buckets to collect money for whichever case was being fought in the South at the time.

Q: What led to your personal involvement in the Black Liberation struggle?

In college, I got involved with Friends of SNCC. That should have told me I'd wind up with the chair of SNCC.

I graduated in June and met Imam Jamil in July. My sister and her husband got arrested. They were with RAM (Revolutionary Action Movement). This was the first case in which middle class African Americans were involved in supporting the Black Liberation struggle.

RAM is mentioned in the original COINTELPRO papers along with SNCC, Stokely, H. Rap Brown, etc. My husband went to a rally for RAM before I met him.

By August 1967, the FBI had contacted me. They said, "You know your sister was framed. If you help us, we'll clear her." I told them I knew she'd be cleared because she was framed. The FBI wanted me to work for them to provide reports on Imam Jamil.

My parents were very involved with the community. We were a close knit family. I had a non-traumatic childhood (other than the fact that I was almost electrocuted). We did not go without anything. We traveled a lot. My father helped form an organization for African American city workers in transit.

My first trip to the South was in 1959 when a girlfriend of mine invited me to travel with her to visit her relatives. One day, we went shopping to look at earrings. I went to hand money to one of the workers, and she threw the money on the floor. Later, I was trying to buy a hotdog, and they would not sell it to me, because the hotdog stand was "Whites Only." Up in New York, we protested White Castle (fast food establishment).

My mother was very proper. When my husband's book came out, she would not say the name of the book, because it was called Die Nigger Die.

The FBI hounded my parents. They went to my father's job repeatedly. Despite this, my parents continued to be very supportive. I came from very smart, compassionate parents. They both died young (at age 51). One day, we went to the grocery store. When we came out, we found our car had a flat tire. We said, "Oh FBI."

Not long after, my father stopped at a gas station to fix a flat tire. He collapsed and died. Imam Jamil's mother died the week after that. Then, my mother went into the hospital. They discovered an aneurism on the right side of her brain. Then, they located another on the left, and she died two months later, in June. Then, in October, Imam Jamil was shot and went to the same hospital where my mother died. In fact, he was in the room next to where my mother spent two months before she died. All this happened in one year. We just didn't have time for grieving.

(To be continued)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Women Activists Unite to Fight Imperialism at Montreal Conference

Women activists unite to fight imperialism

By LeiLani Dowell
Published Aug 29, 2010 10:36 PM

Uniting under the theme, “Moving forward the militant global women’s movement in the 21st century,” more than 350 women from 32 countries participated in the Montreal International Women’s Conference, held Aug. 13-16. The conference resulted in the formation of an International Women’s Alliance. The IWA will hold its first assembly in 2011 to adopt a constitution of principles of unity and an action proposal.

Plenary discussions highlighted the effect of imperialism on women and building resistance. A number of women-oriented workshops were held, including ones on resisting forms of exploitation; health and reproductive rights; the issues facing sexual minority women; the impact of migration; fighting racism and genocide; struggles of the Indigenous; and socialism and national liberation. A vibrant cultural event was held the evening of Aug. 15, showcasing the serious talents of many of the conference participants.

While the greatest number of women conference participants came from oppressed countries, there were women who represented important class struggles inside the imperialist countries like the U.S. and Germany. Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment was instrumental in organizing a delegation of women from the U.S., including a group from the Women’s Fightback Network.

The WFN delegation included representatives from the Million Worker March Movement; Picture the Homeless; Transport Workers Union Local 100; the May 1 Coalition for Worker and Immigrant Rights; Fight Imperialism, Stand Together; and Workers World Party.

Along with the WFN, the other conveners of the MIWC were Women of Diverse Origins, Gabriela Philippines, Red Género y Economía México, the Asian Rural Women’s Network and the Action Network for Women’s Rights and Empowerment.

MWMM leader Brenda Stokely, a plenary and workshop speaker at the MIWC, told WW: “One of the most affirming experiences at this conference was that we must build genuine unity and solidarity among women of color, our natural allies — sisters from Asia, the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America — sisters whose lives are directly impacted by imperialist wars of aggression or superexploitation. These women not only spoke in their own name about conditions they face daily, but they spoke about various strategies and tactics for resisting and fighting back against those conditions in rural areas and urban centers. So many experiences of women were reflected at this conference, which was an inspiration in terms of building an alliance against all forms of imperialism.

“There were a lot of young women activists and revolutionaries at the conference who asked thoughtful questions in terms of the various ways on how to wage the struggle, but also on how to maintain your fortitude and optimism in the day-to-day task of building alliances with others.

“Those of us from the bowels of U. S. imperialism were able to expose the conditions of the millions being exploited and facing a legacy of genocide within the U.S. prison house of oppressed nations — Black, Indigenous, Chicano/a, Filipino, Puerto Rican, Alaskan and Hawaiian nations as well as the numerous oppressed minorities. We pledged our solidarity to liberate our own society from capitalism and stand shoulder to shoulder with sister warriors who are waging anti-imperialist and revolutionary struggles around the world.

“By forming this International Women’s Alliance, we will be able to help change the character of the global women’s movement by giving a strong voice to working-class women, rural women and women of color in order to define their own action plans and tactics in the struggle against imperialism.”

For more information on the conference and updates on the newly formed International Women’s Alliance, visit miwc2010.wordpress.com.

The writer was a member of the WFN at the Montreal conference.
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Stop the Foreclosure of Michelle Hart: Emergency Protest at Bank of America, Wed., September 1 in Downtown Detroit

Stop foreclosure of Michelle Hart

Emergency Protest at Bank of America
Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2010, 12 noon
500 Griswold, downtown Detroit

Tell Bank of America: Stop the foreclosure/eviction of Michelle Hart!

Sign on today to the “Helping Hardest Hit Homeowners” program to keep unemployed workers in their homes!

Michelle Hart and her elderly mother face imminent foreclosure and eviction from their home in Southfield, Mich., by Countrywide and Bank of America. The bank refuses to modify Ms. Hart’s usurious, adjustable-rate mortgage, even though it signed a binding Consent Agreement with the Attorney General’s office on Oct. 6, 2008, to modify loans.

Ms. Hart has fought in court for a year and a half now to get BOA and Countrywide to abide by the Consent Agreement and modify her loan. But the bank refuses and is forging full steam ahead to evict her and her mother, who suffers from pancreatic cancer.

BOA would rather toss them out on the street than negotiate a loan modification even though Ms. Hart is able and willing to make her mortgage payments, if only they will modify her loan to reflect her reduced income. Like so many others, Ms. Hart faced job loss and then found temporary work at lower wages.

In the meantime, the “Help for Hardest Hit Homeowners” program that provides over $282 million in federal monies to Michigan to keep unemployed workers in their homes is failing because NOT ONE MAJOR LENDER, INCLUDING BOA/COUNTRYWIDE, HAS SIGNED ON TO PARTICIPATE IN THE PROGRAM. We must take to the street and protest these outrages!

Stop the eviction of Michelle Hart and her mother!

Demand Bank of America and all major lenders & servicers (Chase, Wells Fargo, Ocwen, etc.) immediately agree to participate in Michigan’s ‘Help for Hardest Hit Homeowners’ program to keep unemployed workers in their homes!

IMMEDIATE MORATORIUM on all foreclosures

Bail out PEOPLE, not banks

The Moratorium NOW! Coalition, along with the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice, holds weekly organizing meetings every Monday at 7:00 p.m. at 5920 Second Avenue in Detroit. All are welcome.

Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shutoffs

Phone: (313) 671.3715 or (313) 887-4344 E-mail: moratorium@moratorium-mi.org
Web site: http://www.moratorium-mi.org

South African Communist Party Says Wage Gap Still Too High

SACP: Wage gap still too high


The government should ensure there is a moratorium on salary
increases in the upper levels of government, the South African Communist Party said on Sunday.

"The wage gap in the public sector between the highest paid and the lowest paid is 91 to one", secretary general Blade Nzimande said, calling on the government and public-sector unions to resolve the indefinite strike speedily.

"The longer it is prolonged, the more everyone suffers and the danger of unbridgeable positions becoming entrenched increases."

He condemned acts of violence accompanying the strike -- now on the brink of its third week.

Nzimande said threats of physical attacks against students and teachers, as well as neglecting patients at intensive care units, were all acts of punishment against the poor.

"These forms of gross indiscipline detract from the legitimacy of the struggle and divides rather than unites the working class," he said.

He said most of the formal sector workers, including public-service workers in key areas like education, healthcare and policing, did not qualify for government subsidised RDP housing, and could also not afford private bank mortgages.

"Increases in the housing allowance paid to public service workers might help alleviate some of their problems," he said.

About 1,3 million public service workers embarked on an indefinite strike in a bid to push government to concede to their 8,6% salary hike and R1 000 housing per month allowance demand.

The government offered a 7% pay hike and a R700 housing allowance.

Nzimande said whatever the outcomes of the strike, the ANC-led alliance partners needed to sit down and analyse the reasons for the strike.

He said one of the issues to be discussed was the way wage bargaining was conducted in the public sector.

"Public-sector wage bargaining should precede the passing of the budget, and we need to find means for doing this," he said.

He said another area that needed urgent attention was an effective definition and a consensus upon what constituted essential services.

Soldiers won't join strike

Meanwhile, members of the SA Security Forces Union (Sasfu) will not join the strike, union president Bhekinkosi Mvovo said on Sunday.

"We will not join the strike because of the Constitutional Court ruling of 1999 which prohibits soldiers to strike," he said after the union meeting in Cape Town.

Mvovo said they will instead stage a march and picket.

Source: Mail & Guardian Online
Web Address: http://www.mg.co.za/article/2010-08-29-sacp-wage-gap-still-too-high

Brazil's Next President: Where Things Stand With Dilma Rousseff

Brazil's next president: Where things stand

By Gabriel Elizondo in Americas
on August 28th, 2010

Dilma Rousseff has never been elected to public office, but the polls indicate her first such position could be the most important one in Brazil: Mrs President.

Brazil is leaning heavily towards electing the country's first female president.

Dilma Rousseff has never been elected to public office, but the polls indicate her first such position could be the most important one in Brazil: President. Mrs President.

That is the basic conclusion from the array of new polling data released in the past two weeks that show Rousseff, the Workers Party candidate, has taken clear command of the presidential race for the October 3 election.

In a new poll released this weekend by Ibope, Rousseff has 51% of the intended vote, while main opposition candidate, Jose Serra, has dipped to 27%. This is the first poll since the campaigning began that shows Rousseff has exceeded 50%, but the third poll in the past week that has showed Serra dropping below 30% mark.

Rousseff is Lula' s hand picked candidate. In Brazil this election, a vote for Rousseff is a vote for Lula.

To see how far Rousseff has come, keep in mind when the first poll came out way back in February 2008 – before any candidate was officially declared - Rousseff was polling at 9% and Serra at 57%.

As recently as January of this year, Rousseff, who by then was very much a declared candidate, was steadily rising but still polling at about 29% while Serra was hanging strong with about 41%.

The perception amongst most political analysts back then was that Serra was either in command of the race and/or at least in a dead heat with Rousseff and the election would be decided in an eventual runoff.

(If no candidate gets 50+1%, it goes to a second round of voting October 31).

Rousseff was not well known nationally, and needed to be remade as a continuation of Lula's success story for her to catch Serra. Based on the new polling, that is exactly what has happened - and then some.

Serra, according to the polls, is losing a key part of Brazil that he should be winning.

Serra’s party, the Brazilian Social Democrat Party (PSDB), has a traditional stronghold in the south of Brazil, where Lula’s approval numbers are the weakest (but still above 50%).

In the new poll, Rousseff has pulled ahead of Serra in the south of Brazil, opening up a 5% lead. This is sort of like a Democratic presidential candidate having a 5% lead in the polls in Texas against a Republican candidate.

Here is a look at how three important Brazilian benchmark states are looking now:


With a population of 39.8 million (it's bigger or almost as big as most other countries in South America), almost 1 in 4 votes will come from this behemoth of a state. Serra most recently was, by most accounts, a successful governor in Sao Paulo, and before that, he was mayor of the city of Sao Paulo.

He was born here, and is pure ‘Paulistano’ as they call people from the state. But in the latest poll of Sao Paulo voters, Rousseff has pulled ahead of Serra 42% to 35%. If you are a Serra campaigner, this is very troubling.


Most people who have never been to Brazil have probably never heard of this state. But for national elections, it’s the second most important place in all of Brazil.

This state of 19.2 million people is eclipsed in population only by Sao Paulo state (Rio de Janeiro state has about 15 million people), and will account for 10% of all votes cast for president. It’s also a “swing state,” meaning it traditionally does not lean in any one direction politically.

The voters here are unpredictable. Serra should be doing well here, considering the state’s most recent governor is the hugely popular Aecio Neves, who is from Serra’s own PSDB party and one of Serra’s most vocal supporters. But Rousseff, according to the new poll, is in command here with 51% of the vote compared to 25% for Serra.

Historically you can’t win the presidency in Brazil without winning, or at least being competitive, in Minas Gerais and right now, Serra appears to be neither.


Nobody ever expected Serra to win this state of almost 8 million people. Pernambuco is Lula’s home state, and Rousseff was expected to do very well here. But early on in the campaign, Serra’s people had hoped to keep Pernambuco and the entire northeast of Brazil (a traditional Workers Party stronghold) at least competitive to cut into Rousseff’s support - at least a little.

The idea was to separate Rousseff from Lula, and Serra initially tried to campaign hard in the northeast, and gain significant support. That has not happened, as Rousseff is walloping Serra in Pernambuco. The new poll has Rousseff with 71% of the vote in Pernambuco compared to 17% for Serra.

So the snapshot is this:

Rousseff with a marginal lead in Serra’s votes-rich "home state".

Rousseff with a commanding lead in a huge swing state.

Rousseff with a ridiculously big margin in her stronghold state.

With the new polling data, there has been a tectonic plate-type shifting of the dynamics of the race in every single demonstrable way. The next obvious question is...

How has it happened?

Rousseff’s Workers Party has run a strong campaign, and her first television advertisements that went on air two weeks ago were brilliantly produced. They featured a long list of advancements made under Lula and made clear she was his "chosen one" to carry on those advancements after he leaves office in January, due to being prohibited from running for a third consecutive term.

Make no mistake, Rousseff is an awkward campaigner who often has trouble connecting with voters the way Lula naturally does, but that doesn’t appear to matter at this point. Her biggest ally, Lula, has been campaigning for her relentlessly, and when a politician who has almost 80% approval ratings supports you with all the fibers in his body, well, needless to say that goes a long way.

So in many respects, Rousseff is riding his wave of popularity and the prosperity millions of Brazilians have experienced under Lula. And she has apparently articulated well enough to the people how she would carry on his legacy and expand some of the most popular programmes that have reached millions. Simple as that.

But the Serra name is a hardened political powerhouse in Brazil, so the obvious next question is...

How has Serra let a political novice take command?

Serra, a technocrat centrist, is also not a terribly charismatic campaigner, but up until recently, his support was holding in the mid-to-high 30% range. The new polls showing him dipping below 30% are troublesome, to say the least, for his team.

His PSDB party said last week they are going to consolidate their limited remaining funds to campaigns in four key states, rather than try to compete in all of Brazil's 26 states.

One of Serra’s main political allies, highly regarded former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso (the last man who can say he beat Lula in an election), has been speaking out to the international press about how Rousseff is beatable, although inside Brazil, Cardoso has oddly been "missing in action" on the campaign trail with Serra in recent weeks. PSDB candidates in other states have even cut Serra out of their commercials.

Serra has been trying to gain traction by focusing on healthcare issues. Polls indicate the main issue concerning voters is healthcare, and this is a Serra strong point given he was the former minister of health under Cardoso.

But it does not seem to be a winning issue. Whenever he focuses on healthcare – even dedicating an entire campaign commercial to the issue - Rousseff has countered with a long list of government accomplishments and programmes under Lula (which she can at least partly take credit for – like 24 million people lifted from poverty, 12 million jobs created, 54% increase of Brazilians who have entered the middle class) which drown out anything else Serra is trying to get across.

Amazingly, Rousseff, who has never held elected office, has a real record to run on. While Serra, the career politician, seems to have few. At least few that are gaining votes. That is a real political twist.

As an editorial in the weekly news magazine Carta Capital recently noted, Serra appears to be, “without money, without anything to talk about, and without allies”.

Not a good place to be with a little over a month until an election.

Serra has been down this road before, having run for president and lost to Lula in 2002. Then he at least forced the election to a runoff second round of voting. No doubt Serra and his campaign team know the challenges he faces in September - the final month of this campaign.

But this time, he might have to change tactics quickly to upend the dynamics of the race if he has any chance of keeping pace with the Lula-Rousseff political machine that is gaining speed and doesn’t seem to show any signs of slowing.

There might be a time in the future in Brazilian politics, when Lula doesn't matter anymore. But that time won't be 2010. All you have to do is look at the new polls to realise that one bit of political truth.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bolivia Says CIA Knew of Terrorist Plot to Attack Cuban and Venezuelan Humanitarian Brigades

Bolivia: CIA knew of terrorist plot to attack Cuban and Venezuelan humanitarian brigades

Jean-Guy Allard
Courtesy of Granma International

ISTVAN Belovai, the CIA agent who directed the conspiracy led by paramilitary Eduardo Rosza to assassinate President Evo Morales in April 2009, was also informed of the mercenary’s plans to attack humanitarian brigades of Cuban and Venezuelan doctors and engineers involved in community services in the poorest municipalities of eastern Bolivia.

This is confirmed by emails between Rosza and Belkovai which have been meticulously studied by the Cochabamba Bolivian Data and Analysis investigation center, headed by the well-known anthropologist and communicator Wilson García Mérida.

"Rosza suggested to Belovai that he could attack precise targets where both brigades were working and which were already being planned between them via these emails," the investigator explained.

"There was talk of blowing up the one kilometer-plus Pailón bridge – Bolivia’s largest, inaugurated by Evo Morales in the sugar region of Santa Cruz – as well as points precisely defined on Google maps where brigades of Venezuelan military engineers from the binational commandos were involved in community works in the poorest rural municipalities of the Amazonian eastern region, together with Cuban medical brigades located in the same areas."

Istvan Belovai, formerly a Hungarian intelligence officer, who was the link between Hungarian-Croat Eduardo Rosza Flores, chief of the paramilitary group in charge of the assassination attempt, and the CIA, died on November 6, 2009 in Denver, United States, where he had lived since a hasty exit from his country in 1990.

The circumstances of the death of Belovai, who directed the conspirators, remain something a mystery.

In the mid-80s, then Lieutenant-Colonel Istvan Belovai (agent "Scorpion-B") of the Hungarian military intelligence services, made the headlines for having leaked to the CIA the names of U.S. officers passing on information to Hungarian intelligence. In the 90s, Belovai emigrated to the United States and joined the CIA.

Belovai’s death occurred precisely when the contents of one of Rosza Flores’ laptops was being minutely examined in Bolivia. In one file called Bel-Norte, the Bolivian experts found a number of emails between Rosza Flores and agent Belovai.


That correspondence between the terrorist and the spy of Hungarian origin made reference to Hugo Achá Melgar, representative in Bolivia of the Human Rights Foundation, and currently a fugitive in the United States after having been exposed by the Bolivian police as one of the principal financiers of the terrorist war to be mounted in Bolivia.

At that time, Achá Melgar was in constant contact with the Cuban-American terrorist Armando Valladares, the man who directed the activities of this CIA-front foundation from New York.

"The relation between Hugo Achá Melgar and Valladares is a direct one, given that this lawyer publicly boasted about it – he was co-host of a very popular television program in Santa Cruz, on which he used to refer to Valladares as his ‘dear personal friend.’ In fact, the direct link between Achá Melgar and Valladares led to the arrival of ‘international observers’ (anti-government agents) in Santa Cruz during the January 2009 referendum and apparently Belovai was among those so-called observers," Wilson García Mérida explained.

Valladares, a terrorist of Cuban origin arrested in Havana with Carlos Alberto Montaner in December 1960 while leading attacks on stores and movie theaters in the capital on the CIA’s account, managed his subversive organization from New York’s Empire State Building itself, without the least interference from the FBI. Shortly after the Santa Cruz events, Valladares resigned from the presidency of that front organization well known for its campaigns of interference in Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela.

Between October and November 2008, when the abovementioned correspondence took place, Rosza Flores "had begun to distance himself from his separatist godfathers of the Santa Cruz oligarchy, because they refused to give him the huge financial resources that he was demanding to buy weapons of mass destruction such as missiles and tanks," and sought direct contact with the CIA and financial backing via Belovai and Valladares.

The targets of the conspiracy dismantled on April 16, 2009 in the Las Américas Hotel in Santa Cruz were President Evo Morales, Vice President Alvaro García Linera and Government Minister Juan Ramón Quintana.


One of the capos of the Supreme Council that directed the conspiracy to assassinate Evo Morales was an influential Santa Cruz businessman, Branko Marinkovic, of Croatian origin.

Marinkovic fled Bolivia after being exposed by the Attorney General’s Office and found refuge in U.S. territory.

After the commando was dismantled, Alejandro Melgar Pereira, the director of the Santa Cruz Arbitration and Conciliation Center, and an accomplice in the conspiracy, immediately fled Bolivia for the United States.

It was also confirmed that Rosza Flores was in contact with UnoAmerica, a Latin American fascist organization headed by Alejandro Peña Esclusa, who subsequently turned up on the side of the Honduran coup leaders.

Peña Esclusa has many links with the Miami Cuban-American mafia and two anti-Chávez groups are affiliated to his organization in that city.

Peña Esclusa was arrested last July 5 by officers of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN), after a raid on his house in Caracas, in which one kilogram of C4 explosive and 100 detonators were seized.

Humanity Must Preserve Itself in Order to Live for Thousands of Years, Says Fidel Castro

Humanity must preserve itself in order to live for thousands of years

(Taken from CubaDebate)

"Humanity must preserve itself in order to live for thousands of years," Fidel responded to Russian writer Daniel Estulin, author of the Bilderberg Club trilogy, who is visiting Havana. He stated that in relation to the visitor’s belief that in order to solve many of its problems, humanity will have to emigrate to other planets.

Fidel emphatically affirmed that however enthusiastic we might feel about survival in other spaces within the solar system, it is better for us not to lose what we have on Earth, because that is the only way not to lose everything that lies beyond this planet.

With great difficulty, human beings have landed on the moon, an inhospitable satellite. Beyond that lie Jupiter, Mars, Neptune, Venus and the other planets, which basically equate to dust clouds, incandescent ovens or ice.

The conversation between the leader of the Revolution and the writer was a profound, fascinating dialogue that lasted more than 90 minutes, every one of which was of surprising intensity.


"The obligation of all human beings is to ensure the survival of the entire human race. The Bilderberg Club wants to exclusively ensure the survival of its own species, an authentic minority," affirmed Daniel Estulin after the formal introductions.

"You wrote very beautiful things about your grandfather," Fidel remarked. "I loved my grandfather very much. He was a very special man. He was a well-known doctor, a surgeon, in Lithuania. My grandfather was from Crimea and during World War II, on just one day, the Nazis killed 11 of his siblings, as well as his mother, his father and his 104-year old grandfather. Imagine coming from a large family and the very next day, being left an orphan."

He lived through World War I, the 1917 Russian Revolution, the Civil War and World War II. "At some point, in the chaos of the war, he lost track of his family. His wife and three children – aged eight, five and three years old – were captured by the Nazis, sent to a concentration camp and exterminated," he recalled.

Estulin explained in detail to Fidel the history of his family, who emigrated to Canada in 1980 – it was there that he and his grandfather were reunited – of his pilgrimage through various countries of the world, and of his Sevillian wife. He has lived in Spain for the last 17 years. Although he was born in Lithuania, he is Russian, as is his mother tongue.

The Comandante was impressed with how fluently Estulin spoke Spanish. "I write in English for convenience, because most editors speak that language. My books have been published in more than 50 countries. I’ve been told that you read in English…"

"In Spanish with difficulty…" Fidel replied jokingly. But he does read many original English language texts translated into Spanish. One example he gave was Lincoln: "A biography by U.S. writer Gore Vidal. It is incredible how one man can reconstruct the whole atmosphere of that time and compare it to what is happening today."


"They’re at war with Chávez because, against all odds, Venezuela is still one of the few countries in the world where there are no U.S. military bases. And they hate Cuba for the same reason: its independence. In Cuba, they cannot destroy the concept of ‘nation-state’, in my opinion the most important concept of the last 600 years," affirmed Estulin.

"You left out Ecuador, which had a base in Manta for 10 years and they succeeded in removing it. There are bases in many other countries. Within a matter of hours, they can place troops in any nation," Fidel observed. "As if they were branches of McDonalds," said Estulin, ironically.

"With respect to direct bases, they have Guantánamo, they have the Malvinas…And in the other countries, they might seem not to have them but in reality they do. They engage in practices and exercises. They don’t have any in Venezuela. Colombia is a country converted into a base. They have them in Honduras. They don’t have them in Costa Rica but they do have 40 vessels there, included aircraft carriers, ‘nobly’ helping in the war on drugs. It’s completely cynical…" added Fidel.

For Estulin, the upcoming elections in Venezuela are crucial. It is not a case of two ideologically exclusive tendencies facing each other at the polls. Sources linked to the U.S. State Department have confirmed that – after the demonizing of Hugo Chávez and the Bolivarian process – there is a plan to install military bases in that country, which will not be possible with the sovereign and Latin Americanist policies of the Venezuelan leader.

The conversation continued on this subject and the challenges facing the new National Assembly that will emerge from the elections on September 26, which will see the return of an opposition that is out of practice in terms of legislating because of the years that it has remained outside of the process in its attempt to boycott the Bolivarian government.

Chávez – who recently paid a visit to Havana – is optimistic, confirmed Fidel and is working tirelessly on the peace process with Colombia. "He sleeps a little during the day and works all night long."

But the world that Fidel is visualizing – and he says it himself – is not that one, a world of electoral conflicts. "In my opinion, the empire is going to fall. If there is a war, the whole world will fall. Our struggle is for no war, but not at any price. This is not about imposing conditions. There will be no war if nobody pulls the trigger, which is now in the hands of Obama, who is not a warmonger. As Israeli journalist Jeffrey Goldberg says, in his analysis of Bush: ‘I don’t personally expect Obama to be more Bush than Bush.’"


They commented on the string of attacks in Iraq the previous day. Sixty-two people were killed on the very same day that the U.S. troops officially left Baghdad. Fidel raised the question: "Who is in control there? There is also the situation in Afghanistan; there are some very interesting things related to what you wrote about Bali – the 2002 attack on a nightclub. That attack was attributed to Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is another mystery that is being uncovered."

The Comandante en Jefe confirmed that he always had his suspicions about Al Qaeda and Bin Laden. "Every time that Bush went out to instill fear and make a big speech, Bin Laden appeared saying what he was going to do and making threats. Bush was never lacking in support from Bin Laden. I seemed line a tableau and it was Wikileaks that demonstrated that he was, effectively, a CIA agent. They proved it with documents."

Estulin commented that high-ranking U.S. officials and intelligence services in other nations have acknowledged that the last time Bin Laden’s voice was heard was on December 21, 2001. "Since then, he has disappeared. Since that date, he has been replaced by a bad actor who dresses like him but doesn’t even look like him."


Once again, as in his conference with national colleagues the previous evening, Estulin took up the central thesis of his exposé: "The objective of the Bilderbergs is to destroy Russia as a military power and China as an economic power." And he thanked Fidel again for including excerpts from his books in his recent Reflections, because, "They cannot silence what you say." "It wasn’t always like that," clarified the leader of the Revolution.

The journalist stated that the world superpowers are aware that the only state capable of militarily standing up the United States and destroying it is Russia, and emphasized that there is a third plan, the Barbarossa – as the Nazi invasion of the USSR was known – against the current Russia.

The Russian writer reiterated that the final objective of this whole montage, including a possible nuclear war, is to destroy Russia, the great military enemy of the United States. "Russia has the potential to wipe the USA off the face of the earth. It has much more powerful weapons that those that the U.S. arsenal might possible contain at this moment in time. For example, the P-7000 Granite, an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead of 500 kilotrons. It is launched from a submarine. It flies at a speed of 2,983 kilometers per hour. There is nothing in the world faster than that. The fastest U.S. aircraft flies at around 2,600 kilometers.

"There has been no talk about that," Fidel commented. Estulin said, "They are extremely afraid of it. It is a fact that the Kursk nuclear submarine – sunk in the Barents Sea on August 12, 2000 – was carrying these weapons."

That is one element to take into account when considering that "my country, Russia, is the Number 1 military enemy of the United States. Right now they are building 13 super-secret bases in Afghanistan and each one of these is larger than any other U.S. base in the world, and there are already more than 700. They are not building them to attack Iran but Russia’s southern border."

Estulin has documented information on the strategic weapons aimed at his country, the plans for Afghanistan, historical precedents, and the collapse of the USSR.

Fidel listened to him very closely. "Accumulating more than 25,000 nuclear weapons isn’t for sane people. All of that was passing through my mind while you were speaking, and I was asking myself where it’s all going to stop. That was exactly what I wanted to discuss with you. I have devoted a lot of time to reading and collecting information. We dedicate all our time to informing ourselves, while those who make decisions than can determine the lives of millions of people are disinformed."


The history of small-format atomic weapons dates back to the end of the 1950s or the early 1960s, for pacific use. Estulin explained, "When engineers wanted to open a pass through a mountain to build a tunnel, for example, they realized that there wasn’t a high enough quantity of dynamite to do so. So then they began to use controlled atomic energy. The military industry realized that it would also serve to kill people. Third- and fourth-generation weapons emerged from there.

Some of these weapons can be the size of a baseball. But there are two ways of constructing an atomic bomb: with uranium or with plutonium. The difference is the critical mass: that of uranium is more or less 50-52 kilos of the critical mass while of plutonium it is far less. The Hiroshima bomb was uranium and that of Nagaski, plutonium.

According to Estulin, terrorists have never had access to uranium bombs because, "we haven’t seen an explosion like that of Hiroshima since 1945. Terrorists do not have the technology to produce mini-nukes. Only the United States, Russia, France and Israel can do that."


The bombs dropped from Batista’s airplanes, Fidel recalled, were sometime of 500 kilograms, and opened a large hole, but did not destroy many houses. "They fell, buried themselves and exploded," Fidel added. "In the case of atomic bombs, the mushroom cloud and fire are two unmistakable signs accompanying them. I don’t remember that happening in the Sierra Maestra.

"They destroyed, without any doubt, but not in those apocalyptical dimensions of the nuclear bomb. "Once they launched two 500-kilogram bombs on us and I went to see them: they had damaged a little bit more than half a hectare, but there was no fire. We were about 100 meters from the place where they bombarded. They more or less knew where we were, because we had the enemy troops surrounded, there was never any fire. And they dropped bombs on us! That was the first we had to deal with, 20 minutes after starting any combat action."

The Batista Army used those weapons very well, because the United States had trained them. "They used B-26s, as well as a kind of fighter plane with 8 machine guns and they had some Hunter Jets, three in all, two of them we used afterward to defend ourselves during the mercenary Bay of Pigs attack (1961). Those Jets were handled by pilots who were taken prisoner for refusing to carry out Batista’s orders and had been tried and punished for that."

The Comandante en Jefe commented that all the dynamite used by the Rebel Arm in the war was taken from unexploded bombs. "Our people learned to uncover them and pull them out. We made contact mines with a little torch battery… Sometimes we would put in 20 kilograms of TNT and that could turn a light tank upside down; it could completely destroy heavy ones.

Fidel’s memories traveled back to the fighting methods of the Rebel Army, based on respect for dignity, the humane treatment of prisoners, and ethics in confronting an enemy which totally lacked that values. "No soldier is going to hand himself over if he knows that they are going to kill him. It was the simplest thing in the world for us to put out of action an army trained by the yankis, which came to consider itself invincible."

Without abandoning the subject, Fidel asked Estulin what his argument was in response to people who challenge his investigations, specifically in terms of the effect of radiation where mini-nuke explosions had allegedly taken place.

According to the journalist, even in the language of those writing about the explosions one can find indications as to what produced them, although the most obvious evidence such as the effects of radiation on the people affected in the short-, mid- or long-term is concealed.

"For example, Fidel insisted, "Who is interested in the Oklahoma explosion?" The writer’s response prompted him to move on to interests beyond that of the U.S. presidency, which nobody reaches without being approved by those interests.

Estulin believes that the plans of the world elite are to exterminate surplus humans on a planet whose population is growing at a faster rate than the availability of resources in many regions.

Fidel only noted: "Humanity will have to resolve the issue of renewable energy…" and after commenting on the drama provoked by the forest fires in Russia, recommended to the journalist the documentary Home, which focuses on the challenges of human survival."


Estulin posed the question of whether humanity could still be on this planet in 50-100,000 years’ time. For him, the response is: No. "There will be too many of us. The only alternative is that, through progress and development, we colonize the moon, Mars, space and assure ourselves that billions of humans can survive, and that for me is immortality."

"What you say about human progress is correct," Fidel replied, "But in my view, life is going to unfold here, on this planet. There is no atmosphere on Mars, the Moon and the other planets of the solar system. Your theory is absolutely right in the sense that humanity has to preserve itself in order to live for thousands of years, thanks to progress.

"But we have to fight against the forces that are preventing this progress." And Fidel gave one example: "It is calculated that life began on this planet around four billion years ago, more or less. Oil began to be formed more or less 400 million years ago. Humans are wasting in less than 200 years the oil accumulated over 400 million years… The atmosphere cannot resist that consumption."

Estulin affirmed his agreement. "I think that all of us have to fight as much as Fidel for the survival of the species…"

The author commented that many people believe that we have reached the point of no return, and that we have to stop dead. "The dangers are very great," Fidel observed.

Estulin gave his books to Fidel and wrote as a dedication: "We shall win the war when the power of love exceeds the love of power."

Fidel read it silently and then said out loud: "We will win the war by not waging it."

Translated by Granma International