Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

"Fidel's Final Victory"

[Editor's note: this post was written by Cindy Domingo, Branch Representative on the National Board and member of the Women & Cuba Issue Committee. Cindy lives in Seattle, Washington.]

I would like to recommend folks read an article entitled, "Fidel's Final Victory" in the January/February 2007 Foreign Affairs. It deals with the transition of power that has occurred in Cuba and places it the context of U.S.-Cuba relations. As the article states, the transition of power has occurred and although the U.S. and the media can pretend that chaos will break out and a mass exodus of Cubans to the U.S. will occur - none of that has happened. Cuban society is running smoothly, services are continued to be provided and life continues. The only problem that continues is that the U.S. blockade and the corporate controlled media prevents us from hearing accurate news of what is happening in Cuba or seeing it for ourselves.

The transition for power happened and the Cuban exile community will not be returning home to reclaim anything. The Cuban people won't allow that - it's their country!!!

by Cindy Domingo


Monday, January 22, 2007

Star Wars, the Strategic Defense Initiative, and Human Travel to Mars

[Editor's Note: the following post was written by Mort Frank, member of the WILPF Philadelphia branch Military Affairs Committee in response to "Look Up! Is It a Threat? Or a Plea for a Ban?," by William J. Broad in the Sunday NY Time's Week in Review.]

William J. Broad discusses only the first of these in The New York Times Week in Review of January 21, 2007, but he might well have been discussing all three. What they have in common is that they are all Government-sponsored crackpot ideas consuming huge amounts of money. SDI has already demonstrated it can't work. Steps to enable human travel to Mars, which are just getting under way, face insurmountable technical pitfalls. "Star Wars," – which refers to the preparation of missiles or other satellites, to destroy the satellites of an enemy, such as China – presumes large scale war with that enemy.

The impossibility of SDI has been evident for decades, and big money still continues to get spent. Even if human travel to Mars were to work, data collection by human explorers could not be nearly as useful or efficient as what is already accomplished by robots. The problem of insecurity of our satellites could readily be resolved by signing and monitoring a space treaty.

What these three programs have in common is their pork barrel nature. They are expensive make-work for the aerospace industry. At the most, failure of the space travel adventure would cost a dozen lives. SDI doesn't scare anybody anymore, but the prospect of effectively targeting the satellites of an adversary is real and carries the possibility of destabilizing international relations. As William J. Broad makes clear, the United States stands to lose more than any other country by having its satellites destroyed in war. It is clear that Broad doesn't support preparations for "space war," but I fear that he treats the issue a little too solemnly. Broad would have done a service if he had examined the pork barrel aspect of antisatellite weapons. Business for the aerospace industry is the only way that the space war project makes sense.

by Mort Frank, WILPF Philadelphia Branch

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A Modern History of Cuba by Lisa Valenti, member of the Women & Cuba Issue Committee

[Editor's Note: This post is a reaction to the article "After Castro: What Was Once Theirs," by Anthony DePalma that appeared in The Week in Review section of the Sunday NY Times yesterday. Lisa Valenti is a member of the WILPF Pittsburgh branch and the Women & Cuba Committee of WILPF US.]

When the revolution came to power in 1959, the majority of resources were owned and controlled by foreign interests, the majority U.S. individuals and corporations from the United States owned two-thirds of the arable land in Cuba and controlled most of the commerce. At the same time, political corruption in Cuba was rampant under the US supported dictator General Fulgencio Batista. Fidel Castro led a revolution, which overthrew the dictatorship and declared Cuba for the Cubans, severing its status as a U.S. satellite, or virtual colony, making the island a self-determining, independent, and sovereign nation.

In order to address the profound economic inequities, the new government had to undertake fundamental resource allocation and nationalized all foreign held companies along with fifty percent of the land, including all farms over 400 hectares, 380 firms, 36 sugar mills, and all of the banks, with nationalization and expropriation of foreign owned land holdings.

Cubans with property, mainly the 'managerial class' or 'loyalists' to US interests, fled to the US, fearful of retribution from landless farm workers. However, no personal property or homes were seized where the owners remained, although some farms over 400 hectares, had 'excess' land given to landless farmers to live on and grow food.

The new Cuban government offered compensation for all nationalized resources, but at the declared tax value of the property, which was based on the purchase price, and of course, was undervalued, and thus the US corporations refused to accept, thinking they would, from the safety of Miami mount a counter attack and return Cuba as a client state to the US. (Bay of Pigs, etc.)

Every other country that had property that was nationalized, has been compensated for their property. The US has refused to negotiate.

On the matter of 'individual' homes, no homes were seized unless they were abandoned by their occupants, as was the case of the NYT article. Cuba doesn't let foreigners own property, that would sit around perpetually abandoned and unmaintained, like we do in the U.S., which are blights in our communities. (Although foreigner's may RENT/lease property or enter into 'joint' ventures, developmental partnerships with Cuba.)

Surprisingly, Cuba has one of the highest home 'ownership' ratios in the world. In Cuba, people 'own' their homes, they have paid off small loans and they cannot be evicted for any reason for their entire lives. But they do not own the land the homes sit on, and may not sell them for profit, or to foreigners. All land is retained by the state in public trust. However Cubans have an ingenious method of 'exchanging' homes, not exactly bartering, but moving in ways that allows them some freedom, in obtaining more or less space.

However, housing is in crisis in Cuba because the US blockade does not allow for building supplies to be easily purchased or transported to Cuba, and every year Cuba loses thousands of homes to the many natural disasters, hurricanes, etc.

For people thinking they will get rich on property abandoned by their relatives, they will be sorely disappointed.

by Lisa Valenti. More information on the Women & Cuba Issue Committee of WILPF US can be found on our main website.

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Citizen's Hearing on the Legality of US Actions in Iraq

[Editor's note from Carol Urner, Co-Chair of the WILPF Disarm Committee: MacGregor Eddy and Linda Richards are representing the WILPF Disarm Committee at the Citizen's Hearing on the Legality of US Actions in Iraq. A carload from the WILPF Ashland, OR branch also drove up -- a two day trip for them and will be reporting back to us when they return.]

Hello, this is MacGregor from the Citizens' hearing in Tacoma, this is a moving event, dignified, detailed and clear. Here is a blog that has more details than I have time to send, it is amazing:

Today's post on WashBlog

An Interview with Darrell Anderson, Iraq Vet Against the War,
on WashBlog

Blogging from the Citizen's Hearing, Saturday on WashBlog

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