Cuba on Sept. 24 called for revitalizing the Non-Aligned Movement to forge a common front to defend the interests of their peoples and their right to development and peace.

“We, as non-aligned countries, will have to entrench ourselves in defending the United Nations Charter, because otherwise it will be redrafted with the deletion of every trace of principles such as the sovereign equality of states, non-intervention and the non-use or the threat to use force,” Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque said at the 59th session of the UN General Assembly.

The Cuban foreign minister said President Bush had “handcuffed” the United Nations, and the war in Iraq had cost the world organization its credibility and respect. He also argued that the United States would have to withdraw from Iraq.

“After the lives of over 1,000 American youths were uselessly sacrificed to serve the spurious interests of a clique … and following the death of more than 12,000 Iraqis, it is clear that the only way out for the occupying power faced with a revolting people is to recognize the impossibility of subduing them and to withdraw.”

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The report of the Bush-appointed “Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba,” released May 6, spells out U.S. plans for “recolonizing” the island nation. However, according to an article in the Sept. 10 edition of the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, a few high-level diplomats and academics are taking exception to the aggressive plan to send Cuba back to the pre-1959 era of capitalism, corruption and mass deprivation.

The article describes a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell, who chaired the commission, signed by former Secretary of State William Rogers, former World Bank Vice President Shahid Javed Burki, Harvard professor Jorge Domínguez, and Peter Hakim, president of Inter-American Dialogue.

In the letter, these men express their concern that the report’s introduction, written by Powell, doesn’t use phrases like “peaceful change” or “peaceful transition.” They suggest that to abandon this commitment “would represent a dramatic and unfortunate change” in U.S. policy, and that an attempt at a U.S. takeover of Cuba would sow “the seed for the most explosive event in U.S.-Latin American events in the last 50 years.”

Domínguez told La Jornada that the report gives substance to the Cuban government’s accusations that Washington is preparing an invasion. As if to reinforce this view, Dennis Hayes of the notoriously anticommunist Cuban American National Foundation in Washington asked: “What transition ever is carried out without some violence?”

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An overwhelming majority of British MPs of all parties, including Prime Minister Tony Blair, have declared that they would not support any military action against Cuba by the United States.

A recent report reveals that 79 percent of MPs, responding to letters from their constituents, stated that not only would they not support U.S. military action, but that the Bush administration should change its policies towards the island.

Peter Hain, leader of the Commons, stated: “I am absolutely opposed to military action being taken against Cuba and also opposed to the continuing blockade of Cuba by the United States. I visited Cuba two years ago and was very impressed with the social advances that have been made despite all the pressure from the U.S.”

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It appears that the Bush administration has been forced to back off a bit from its allegations that Cuba is developing biological weapons of mass destruction.

Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton was the main purveyor of this charge, which Cuba emphatically denounced as completely unfounded and a slander on the island nation. One basis for the accusations was a supposed “dual use” phenomenon, the idea, for example, that making vaccines can slide over into concocting biological weapons.

During his 2002 visit to Havana, former President Jimmy Carter said there is no evidence of a Cuban bioweapons program.

Now, the Sept. 18 New York Times reports that the administration is letting Cuba off the hook — sort of. According to U.S. officials, as reported in the Times, “It is no longer clear that Cuba has an active, offensive bioweapons program.”

W.T. Whitney contributed to these notes.
(see related issue below)

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Member of Cuban 5 moved to new prison

In August, Gerardo Hernández, one of the five Cuban political prisoners held in the United States with sentences ranging from 15 years to double-life imprisonment for trying to combat terrorism against the island (see “Heroes in the war against terrorism,” PWW, 7/17), was transferred from Lompoc, Calif., to a new maximum-security prison in Victorville, Calif.

In a letter to his friends, Hernández writes that while his new prison cell is slightly bigger and better lighted, “the disciplinary regime is stricter” and the climate is hotter. The prison is located in the Mojave desert.

His new address is as follows:

Gerardo Hernández
U.S. Penitentiary-Victorville
P.O. Box 5500
Adelanto CA 92301

Letters of support are welcome. Hernández writes, “I’d like to take this opportunity to express anew our appreciation of the Five to friends around the world who have continued to support and inspire us with your solidarity.”