I was 13 years old the day I got braces on my teeth and the United States bombed Baghdad, launching the “first” Iraq war. “Today, Wednesday the 16th of January 1991, we had just gotten out of the dentist's office and Mom told me the news,” I wrote in my journal. “She started saying, ‘Oh my God!’ and I was silent, wanting to cry and throw up.” My 8th grade class organized a “speak out” in the school library. The students sat cross-legged on the carpet and took turns struggling to express our feelings through the tangle of meaningless phrases we’d heard adults around us using. One of my classmates stood up to say she was worried about her dad; he was a soldier and had been deployed. “I support our troops,” she declared.
David Ramirez Alvarez is Second Secretary in the Cuban Embassy, representing Cuba’s cultural and political forces sectors. He will be presenting an historical and current analysis of the Cuban health care system, how it differs from our profit-driven system, how Cuba provides comprehensive primary and quaternary health services in the face of a decades’ long illegal and brutal U.S. blockade and still has better outcomes than ours. Ramirez Alvarez will also address how the training of health care providers and scientists in Cuba is intimately connected to the socialist culture derived from the Cuban Revolution. Is a socialist culture necessary to displace our capitalist health care system?
Even the US business magazine Forbes expressed surprise at the reimposition of US sanctions on Venezuela’s gold sales and its threat to do the same with oil. The oil sanctions especially, if reinstated, would precipitate higher gas prices and further debilitate the Venezuelan economy, forcing more people to leave the country out of economic necessity. The Venezuelan government, for its part, has not been contrite. Vice President Delcy Rodríguez protested “the wrong step of intensifying economic aggression against Venezuela.” She warned that if Washington takes the threatened measures, Venezuela will cancel repatriation flights returning Venezuelan immigrants back from the US.
Washington is gearing up to label Yemen’s Ansarallah resistance movement a “specifically designated global terrorist group,” sources in the know told the Associated Press (AP) on 16 January. The decision, expected to be announced in the coming days, is in response to the continued maritime campaign launched by Yemen’s Ansarallah-led government in Sanaa against Israeli shipping in the Red Sea. The designation falls in line with Executive Order 13224, issued during the presidency of George W. Bush. It allows the US government to “designate and block the assets of foreign individuals and entities that commit, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism,” as well as the assets of those who “provide support, services, or assistance to, or otherwise associate with, terrorists.”
Venezuelan Minister of Communication and Information Freddy Ñáñez stated that the Venezuelan government condemns the recent decision by the United States Supreme Court to ratify the dispossession of CITGO Petroleum Corporation. Through a social media post published Tuesday, December 9, Minister Ñáñez wrote that the action violates the agreements signed in Barbados last year. According to his social media post, the measure is seen as another step in the ongoing aggression by United States institutions against Venezuela, seizing the assets rightfully belonging to the Venezuelan people.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador criticized U.S. legislators for refusing to approve resources for the development of Latin America and, instead, focusing on a communication campaign to blame the Mexican administration for not stopping the migratory flow to the north. From the National Palace, the President reiterated, that people have reasons to emigrate from their communities, towns and countries, essentially due to economic difficulties. In his speech, he called for the suspension of the economic and commercial blockade of Cuba and the beginning of a bilateral dialogue, the removal of Cuba from the list of terrorist countries, the abandonment of fears against the Revolution and the admission that there is no danger from Cuba for the United States or any other country.
Nine years ago, on December 17, 2014, jubilation swept the through the city of Havana when Presidents Barack Obama and Raúl Castro announced that they would normalize US-Cuban relations, after 55 years of hostility. Church bells rang, cars honked their horns, and people hugged each other in the streets. Today, the mood in the city is one of desperation. The economy is spiraling downward, and US policy is exacerbating the growing humanitarian crisis. President Donald Trump’s tough economic sanctions drastically reduced Cuba’s foreign exchange earnings, and President Joe Biden has left most of those sanctions in place.
Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab, who was recently liberated from illegal imprisonment in the US, was interviewed by President Nicolás Maduro on the third episode of Maduro Podcast. In the interview, aired on Thursday, December 28, Saab shared details of his experiences during his illegal imprisonment of more than three years, first in Cape Verde and afterwards in the US. Saab, accompanied by his wife Camila Fabri de Saab, expressed his gratitude to the Bolivarian government “for not getting tired when it was easy to get tired” and achieving his release from an unjust kidnapping of more than 1,280 days in a U.S. prison.
The US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on 28 December imposed unilateral economic sanctions on one individual and two currency exchange houses in Yemen, accusing them of “facilitating” the flow of funds for the Ansarallah resistance movement. “Today’s action underscores our resolve to restrict the illicit flow of funds to [Ansarallah], who continue to conduct dangerous attacks on international shipping and risk further destabilizing the region,” said Brian Nelson, the US Treasury under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. The sanctions targeted Nabil Ali Ahmed – reportedly the head of the Currency Exchangers Association in Sanaa – and the Yemen-based Nabco Money Exchange and Remittance Co. and Al Raqda Exchange and Money Transfers Company.
Venezuela successfully negotiated the release of Alex Saab, a government envoy who spent more than three years detained. Saab landed in Caracas on Wednesday afternoon and was greeted by his family and Venezuelan government officials. His release comes as a result of a negotiation between the Nicolás Maduro government and the Joe Biden administration that will see the release of up to 36 people, 10 of them US citizens, currently detained in Venezuela. The Maduro government envoy was arrested during a refueling stopover in Cape Verde in June 2020 on his way to Iran to negotiate food and fuel import deals amidst US sanctions.
December 2 marked the 200th anniversary of the Monroe Doctrine, which proclaimed US dominion over Latin America and the Caribbean. Left-leaning governments in the hemisphere have had to contest a decadent but still dominant USA. Challenges in the past year include a world economic slowdown, a continuing drug plague, and a more aggressive hegemon reacting to a more volatile and disputed world order. The progressive regional current, the so-called Pink Tide, slackened in 2023 compared to the rising tide of 2022, which had been buoyed by big wins in Colombia and Brazil.
The unilateral coercive measures have a physical and a psychological component, and that’s why we talk about a “5th generation war.” In addition to the damage to people’s bodies, particularly the bodies of children and adolescents, so-called sanctions are part of a colonial endeavor in which the colonists feel entitled to dictate the lives of others. Additionally, the use of the term “sanctions” implies that if someone or some country is targeted, it must be because they did something wrong. So what is our sin? To struggle for our liberty and our independence as a nation. During the 2015 to 2019 period, even UNICEF bought into the US government’s discourse. They would say: It’s okay to sanction the Venezuelan government, but children should be protected. But that is simply not possible!
Venezuelan Vice Minister for Anti-Blockade Policies William Castillo explained that as a consequence of the decisions announced by the United States Department of the Treasury regarding sanctions against Venezuelan Oil, the auction of the Venezuelan company CITGO planned for 2024 has been prevented. Castillo said to Últimas Noticias this Thursday, October 19, that the decision extends the prohibition on the sale of PDVSA bonds that are tied to CITGO. “That is very important because it has implications for the auction. While it is in force, and is extended until January, the CITGO auction cannot be held,” he added.
On Wednesday, September 27, US Democratic Senator Bob Menendez plead not guilty to charges of bribery, fraud and extortion in Manhattan federal court. It is not Menendez’s first indictment, but now, Menendez faces resounding calls from top Democrats to resign and not jeopardize their Senate majority in the 2024 election. In addition to facing widespread criticism over corruption allegations, Menendez has long been criticized by pro-peace and human rights activists in the US due to his positions while serving as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC). With regards to US policy towards Cuba, despite an opening for better relations when Donald Trump left office, Menendez used his position as chair to hold Biden’s Cuba policy hostage to the extreme anti-Cuba right.