The water protectors in North Dakota didn’t just build a protest camp. They built a community.

On the ground in Standing Rock

by Juliana BarnetOtherWords

Beyond the protests, police crackdowns, and pipeline drama, what’s it really like at Standing Rock, North Dakota? This October, I went to see for myself.

Like many other Native and non-Native visitors, I went to support the Standing Rock Sioux’s effort to keep the Dakota Access oil pipeline away from the Missouri River, which supplies water to an estimated 18 million people.

The tribe wasn’t meaningfully consulted before the pipeline slashed through its sacred lands. And even though pipelines are notoriously accident-prone, a full environmental impact study was never conducted.

Finally, on December 4, the Obama administration halted the construction of the pipeline and called for that assessment.

But in the preceding months, as the Sioux tried to protect their water, they faced surveillance, tear gas, arrests, water hoses, and attack dogs. Police were acting as the company’s protectors rather than the people’s.

Outrage and solidarity motivated my trip, but I also was eager to see the incredible multi-tribe community beside the river — Oceti Sakowin, the largest of the encampments created to sustain this difficult struggle.

After driving in from Bismarck, I stopped first at the security booth, a small shed overlooking the terrain filled with tents, tepees, RVs, trailers, repurposed school buses, and yurts. A young man directed me to the media tent atop “Facebook Hill,” the only place you could get decent phone reception — at least when law enforcement wasn’t scrambling the signal.

The media tent was a hive of activity powered by portable solar and wind generators. Someone checked my ID and issued a media pass, along with strict guidelines for respectful and secure photography and recording.

Along the main avenue to my campsite, I walked under hundreds of tribal flags waving in the breeze. Everywhere people were chatting, sorting clothes, bustling around the collective kitchens, and chopping wood. Children were roaming about, with adults or on their own.

Before I got far, a Peruvian woman named Claudia called me over to help her husk the mountain of corn somebody had just dropped off. As we chatted, she roped in new helpers with cheerful cajoling.

In the days I was there, I ran errands for the children’s school and kitchen, drove people to actions and from jail, helped build a wigwam, and assisted a disabled elder. I attended meetings, made friends, and got my hurt foot treated at the medic tent and my migraine at the herbalist tent. No money, no appointments — just a pervasive spirit of mutual aid.

It was the same story with food. Besides the main kitchen, with its large army-style tents, tribes set up other kitchens. Each had its own specialties and personality lent by the cooks, who created fabulous meals on wood stoves and campfires with whatever donations came in.

Many recommended “Grandma’s Kitchen,” where Grandma Diane, a Paiute from California, starts each meal by honoring the ancestors and always adds abundant servings of love. No need to call for volunteers, she said. Folks “jump up to help.” Hundreds of hungry folks came in for elk stew, quinoa casserole, cabbage salad, sweet potato fritters, and fried bread — a favorite at every kitchen.

Despite the risk, Diane moved her kitchen a mile north to the front-line camp set up across the path of the pipeline. A few days later, police destroyed it.

I worried about Diane, until I heard she was okay and still calling for supplies to keep cooking for the folks in the struggle, who were then hunkering down to resist the ferocious winter — and the even more ferocious repression.

I didn’t just find a protest camp at Standing Rock — I found a model community. As Natives there celebrate their recent victory, how can anyone not celebrate with them?

Juliana Barnet is an activist and anthropologist who studies communities that arise out of social movements. Distributed by


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Los Rakas, sons of the Afro-Panamanian diaspora based in the San Francisco Bay area, are nominated for the Grammy in the Latin rock / alternative / urban category. (Strange gringo box, but there you have it.) Also nominated are the Puerto Rican iLe, the Argentine Illya Kuryaki & The Valderamas, the LA-based Mexican-American band La Santa Cecila and Mexico’s Carla Morrison.

Los Rakas y su competencia

Los Rakas (Panameños / Estadounidienses en el EEUU)


Carla Morrison (Mexicana)


La Santa Cecilia (Estadounidienses)


Illya Kuryaki & The Valderamas (Argentinos)


iLe (Boricua)


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The Panama News blog links

a Panama-centric selection of other people’s work
una selección Panamá-céntrica de las obras de otras personas

Canal, Maritime & Transportation / Canal, Marítima & Transporte

Travel Pulse, More cruise ships to visit expanded Panama Canal

Hellenic Shipping News, Delivering on PanCanal expansion promises

JOC, US Congress set to pass ports bill

DFNI, International players eye Tocumen duty-free spaces

Q Costa Rica, Sixaola bridge construction moves closer

Sports / Deportes

Sky Sports, Yafai seeks to take Concepcións belt

BBC, Football Leaks suggest tax fraud by Ronaldo and Mourinho

Metro Libre, Remeros se alistan con sus cayucos para la temporada 2016–2017

Economy / Economía

Video, Del Monte reactiva zonas bananeras en Chiriquí y Bocas del Toro

La Estrella, La ocupación hotelera llega a su resultado histórico más bajo

Caribbean News Now!, Regional financial institution moving here

Reuters, Chinese business courts Taiwan ally Panama

WSJ, China focuses on closer Latin American economic ties

PR, Mining merger hangs on Cerro Quema environmental permit

Science & Technology / Ciencia y Tecnología

STRI, Corals that survived Caribbean climate change

KTLA, Worst recorded coral die-off for Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

Mongabay, Learning the kinetics of whales’ lunge feeding

ALAI, La mitad de los acuíferos de la Tierra se están agotando

CBS, Are nuts good for you?

News / Noticias

Telemetro, Panameños protestan por mayor control migratorio

Video, Demonstrators demand release of Okke Ornstein

DPA, El Siglo y La Estrella denuncian bloqueo de Washington

The New York Times, Panama seeks to shed image as a magnet for shady deals

Prensa Latina, Brazilian prosecutors seek support in Panama

The Indian Express, BRICS working to get Panama Papers bank details

ICIJ, Panama Papers have had historic global effects which continue

WSJ, Risk and compliance considerations in the wake of the Panama Papers

Toronto Star, Panama Papers clue in old Modigliani mystery

Reuters, Torture marks on six bodies found in pit in Panama

Colombia Reports, Court case stalls FARC demobilization

BBC, Court orders head of Brazilian Senate to resign

NACLA, Indigenous resistance in Nicaragua’s elections

Foreign Policy, China really isn’t joking about Taiwan

Opinion / Opiniones

Del Corro, De China al Sahara y ahora a Trump: los muros de la historia

Varoufakis: Trump, the Dragon and the Minotaur

WOLA, Colombia’s peace accord depends on end of attacks on social leaders

Amnesty International, Fidel Castro’s legacy

McEnteer, Vultures over Havana

Rodriguez Martinez, International transparency in the eyes of the beholder

Ash, They’ll be back

Sagel, ‘Reality Show’

Simpson, Algo positivo del gobierno

Rodíguez Reyes, Ricaurte Soler

Bernal, Marisín…

Culture / Cultura

Barbados Nation, Panama Dreams screening

TVN, Desfile de antorchas de los bomberos


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A truth about ‘post-truth’

by David D. JudsonStratfor

Nearly a month has passed since American voters gave the presidency, seemingly against all odds, to Donald Trump. And for nearly a month a global chorus of pundits, pollsters and media prophets have asked: How did just about everyone get it wrong? Amid the hand-wringing, the list of culprits is long: Skewed models of voter bases. The demise of landline telephones. Underestimates of “lapsed voters.” The evolution of game-changing social media. Wishful thinking.

In the stream of post-election postmortems on journalism’s performance, “post-truth” is the handiest of explanations in a campaign season that took fibs and fabrication to a new level. The Oxford English Dictionary has declared “post-truth” its International Word of the Year. A Google search on the term yields some 240 million results. Layer what the candidates said against the “fake news” manufactured on Facebook and elsewhere and, for some, this is all but a civilizational threat.

But the term is actually older than we think. It was coined back in 2004 by the author Ralph Keyes. It took a while, but now it has transformed into a new meme alive in the media ecosystem. It is an illustrative case study of how memes emerge and dominate discourse, refracting perceptions of political reality.

But first, a bit of background. The term “meme,” devised in 1976 by sociologist Richard Dawkins from the Greek “mimema,” or “something imitated,” was originally used to describe patterns of belief that spread vertically through cultural inheritance (from parents, for example) or horizontally through cultural acquisition (as in film or media). Dawkins’ point was that memes act much like genes, carrying attributes of beliefs and values between individuals and across generations. It is even a field of academic study known as “memetics.”

The best of intentions

Today the term meme is more popularly applied to videos, a bit of text, a viral tweet, becoming a fixture, a short-lived canon if you will, in social media-driven consciousness. “Post truth” is just one in a long line of them.

Which is not to be dismissive of the underlying issue of partisans planting fabrications into the echo chamber of partisan news media. I share the alarm at the speed with which misleading charges or downright falsehoods can spread through the Twittersphere. And it’s not just an evil embedded in presidential campaigns. The new media age has many dark sides. I worry about “covert influence” that state intelligence agencies — and not just Russia’s — can and do spread. Social media as a tool of terrorist recruitment is a real threat. While writing this column, I chanced across the news that Facebook (inadvertently I’m sure) enabled a far-right group in Germany to publish the names and addresses of prominent Jews, Jewish-owned businesses and Jewish institutions on a map of Berlin to mark the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht.

Still, you’d think from the post-truth discussion that darkness was descending to devour an age of veracity, candor and honesty in our public discourse. The assault on authenticity, however, isn’t anything new. The cry “Remember the Maine” animated the Spanish-American War of 1898 with false claims. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a complete sham, was first published in Moscow in 1903 and its lies are still disseminated, and believed, throughout the world. The “missile gap” of the 1950s is closer in history but no less untrue. Many readers are old enough to remember the misleading Vietnam body counts of the 1960s. Or think of Saddam Hussein’s purported weapons of mass destruction and a war that rages on some 13 years later.

Malicious intent, of course, is at work in the willful propagation of falsehood. But the narrative rivers of the media world all too often ignore the good or evil of their tributaries. Said differently, forest fires spread faster by creating their own wind; more often than not, the oxygen of the mainstream media is a meme or something like it. And it is often carried forward by journalists with the best of intentions.

Tying reality to the soil

I’ve written before that this propagation lies at the heart of the difference between journalism and intelligence, so I won’t belabor the point again. But a few examples are worth examining. The Arab Spring: It never really existed, and we said as much. The intractable clash between the United States and Iran: Our forecast of rapprochement was widely met with skepticism, but then it came true. The inexorable rise of China: It’s not inexorable, and we write about this frequently. The new Cold War: It’s not a good analogy to the current standoff between Russia and the West. The “ever-closer” European Union? Well, no one’s making that argument now. But when we first challenged it years ago, we were considered heathens.

And we’re still heathens. As to the specifics of this election cycle, we’re not going to run a victory lap; we didn’t forecast the outcome because we don’t forecast elections. But we do analyze the global dynamics at play in elections, including rising nationalism, nativism and trade protectionism in the West — themes that echoed throughout the presidential campaign. For us, the overarching issue is not how Trump vanquished Hillary Clinton. It’s how the United States will behave under these new circumstances, which are unreadable to international leaders, elites and publics — but not to us.

Can we expand our methodology to North America? Yes, we can and we will. But we won’t start doing it with existing narrative or memes. The work of geopolitics, one sage of the craft has said, “rids politics of arid theory and senseless phrases” by tying “permanent reality to the soil.” So we will start by looking at the map.

We are not in an era of post-truth. We are in an era of post-meme, at least at Stratfor. And challenging memes, I’ve come to be believe, is at the heart of what Stratfor does.

Questions? Concerns? Drop me a line.

David Judson

A truth about ‘post-truth’ is republished with permission of Stratfor.


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For our Colombian neighbors
Para nuestros vecinos colombianos

Artistas Colombianas – Un Paso Hacía la Paz

Yusuf Islam – Peace Train

Yair Dalal – Zaman El Salam

Bob Marley – Positive Vibration

Inti Illimani – Tatati

Pink Floyd – The Final Cut

Pascuala Ilabaca – Maldigo del Alto Cielo

The Original Caste – One Tin Soldier

Spirit – Why Can’t I Be Free? / Love Has Found a Way

David Bowie – Heroes

Rubén Blades & Jerry Garcia – Muevete

The Judds – Love Can Build a Bridge

Zoé – No Me Destruyas

The Selected Few – Selection Train

Shakira – Imagine


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Trabajadores panameños rinden homenaje a Fidel Castro frente al busto de José Martí en el Parque Porras. Foto por José F. Ponce.

Fidel también le escribió a Trump

por Marco A. Gandásegui, hijo

Cuando el presidente de EEUU, Barack Obama, visitó La Habana hace apenas unos pocos meses, sentía que cada uno de sus movimientos era seguido por la mirada atenta del comandante en jefe de la Revolución cubana, Fidel Castro R. Al lado del líder cubano todos los aguerridos guajiros de la isla mayor de las Antillas estaban vigilantes.

Detrás de Obama hay una historia cincuentenaria de invasiones, asaltos, agresiones económicas y humanitarias que le han costado a los cubanos vidas, bienes y felicidad. Un total de 11 presidentes norteamericanos han hecho todo lo posible por acabar con la Revolución cubana. Incluso, antes del triunfo de la Revolución, durante 60 años, EEUU sometió a la isla a una especie de protectorado al servicio de las mafias que controlan el tráfico de ‘blancas’, de ‘drogas ilícitas’ y armas de guerra (aún activas en Norte, Centro y Sur América).

Fidel ha muerto, pero la Revolución sigue viva y es a través de este proceso que mueve a millones de cubanos y a miles de millones de mujeres y hombres en todo el mundo, que el comandante seguirá vigilante y su voz se escuchará por muchas generaciones por venir. Existe la falsa idea en Wall Street, y en las mentes de quienes explotan a los pueblos del mundo, que pueden derrotar a la Revolución cubana penetrando su economía con promesas de espejitos. A cambio de juguetitos, los cubanos deben entregar su soberanía a Washington y, de paso, el gobierno a los especuladores cubanos que ladran sin cesar desde Miami.

Durante su visita a La Habana, el presidente Obama dijo que, “vine aquí para dejar atrás los últimos vestigios de la guerra fría en las Américas. Vine extendiendo la mano de amistad al pueblo cubano”. Fidel le respondió “no, muchas gracias”, en una carta publicada posteriormente. El comandante cubano agrego que “no necesitamos que el imperio nos regale nada. Nuestros esfuerzos serán legales y pacíficos, porque es nuestro compromiso con la paz y la fraternidad de todos los seres humanos que vivimos en este planeta”.

Obama abandona la Casa Blanca en apenas siete semanas. Se lleva con él su estilo de política exterior. En su lugar, aparecerá en Washington el actual presidente-electo, Donald Trump. Tiene un estilo totalmente diferente. El objetivo sigue siendo el mismo: Destruir la Revolución cubana. En vez de la llamada ‘política suave’, Trump inaugurará su estilo de ‘política dura’. Cuestionará todo lo hecho por Obama mediante ‘órdenes ejecutivas’ y amenazará con suspender las relaciones diplomáticas así como las pequeñas ventanas abiertas a los viajeros norteamericanos con destino a Cuba.

Definirá su comercio exterior – incluyendo inversiones en el extranjero – sobre la base de la lealtad política. Con Trump surge la pregunta si su política exterior será diseñada sólo para beneficiar a la fracción de la clase capitalista que controla el Congreso y las oficinas del poder ejecutivo. Puede también estar orientada a apoyar sus propios intereses como especulador.

En 1998, un consultor de Trump viajó a La Habana con una propuesta para abrir una cadena de hoteles, con casinos, clubes y acceso a playas. El gobierno cubano lo rechazó sin mayores consideraciones. ¿Estará el presidente-electo de EEUU pensando en negocios de este tipo? ¿Qué puede ofrecer a cambio? ¿Le pagará a Cuba los miles de millones de dólares que le debe por daños y perjuicios a la economía de la isla? ¿Piensa devolver la bahía de Guantánamo que ocupa ilegalmente? ¿Levantará el bloqueo contra la isla?

Trump le recuerda a sus amigos y enemigos, dentro y fuera de EEUU, que es un ‘dealer’. Es decir, un negociador. Se cree el mejor negociador del mundo. Al pueblo norteamericano le prometió que una vez en la Casa Blanca haría los mejores negocios para crear más empleo y hacer a “EEUU grande nuevamente”.

Fidel falleció, pero ya le recordó a Trump (cuando le escribió a Obama) que todos los cubanos no se olvidan del “bloqueo despiadado que ha durado ya casi 60 años”. Que “nadie se haga la ilusión de que el pueblo de este país renunciará a la gloria, a los derechos y a la riqueza espiritual que ha ganado con el desarrollo de la educación, la ciencia y la cultura”.

“Somos capaces de producir los alimentos y las riquezas materiales que necesitamos con el esfuerzo y la inteligencia de nuestro pueblo. No necesitamos que el imperio nos regale nada”.

[Lee más sobre Fidel Castro Ruz y su legado, desde perspectivas diversas en español e inglés, en nuestra página de Facebook.]


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Del tirano di todo (I)

por Manuel Castro Rodríguez


Es criminal quien sonríe al crimen; quien lo ve y no lo ataca; quien se sienta a la mesa de los que se codean con él o le sacan el sombrero interesado; quienes reciben de él el permiso de vivir.
José Martí


La objetividad no implica imparcialidad; reconozco que mi opinión está parcializada, porque fui víctima del castrismo, tanto dentro como fuera de Cuba. Millones de cubanos somos damnificados del régimen totalitario, sangriento y dinástico que instauró Fidel Castro Ruz, hecho a su imagen y semejanza.

Como reconoce Juanita Castro, hermana de Fidel y Raúl: “La gran tragedia de Cuba empezó con Batista y siguió con Fidel”, quien pasó rápidamente de humanista a totalitarista.

En el Manifiesto de la Sierra Maestra -que se puede leer al final de este subdominio-, firmado por Raúl Chibás, Felipe Pazos y Fidel Castro Ruz el 12 de julio de 1957 y publicado dos semanas después, el 28 de julio, en la revista cubana Bohemia, se promete restaurar la Constitución de 1940 -socialdemócrata e inspirada por la Constitución mexicana de 1917 y la española de 1931- y celebrar elecciones generales “en el término de un año”. Sin embargo, al año siguiente del triunfo revolucionario, el comandante Raúl Chibás y Felipe Pazos tuvieron que exilarse.

El 18 de enero de 1959, dos semanas después del triunfo de la revolución cubana, salió publicada la segunda parte de la Edición de la Libertad de la revista Bohemia, en la que Raúl Castro declaró:

Sin embargo, veinte días después, el 7 de febrero de 1959, Fidel Castro sepultó la Constitución de 1940, eliminando de un plumazo el espíritu democrático liberal de la Revolución de 1959. Con ello se demuestra que es falso que las represalias económicas norteamericanas –tomadas un año después- lo arrojaran en los brazos de la Unión Soviética. Su obcecación por el poder absoluto y permanente fue lo que lo llevó a ello.

Desde su nacimiento, el castrismo ha chorreado sangre por todos sus poros. La tiranía castrista es responsable de enormes crímenes, no sólo por la cantidad sino por la monstruosidad de esos crímenes, que incluye el asesinato de ancianos, mujeres y niños. Por ejemplo, la masacre del remolcador 13 de Marzo: La Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) dictaminó:

Las pruebas demuestran claramente que el hundimiento del barco remolcador ’13 de Marzo’ no fue un accidente sino un hecho premeditado e intencional.

Gracias a un buque de bandera griega, 33 cubanos pudieron sobrevivir a la masacre. Vean los videos con las denuncias que hicieron los sobrevivientes, entre ellos, la denuncia hecha por dos madres a quienes les asesinaron sus pequeños hijos. Vean la edad de los niños cubanos que fueron asesinados por el castrismo el 13 de julio de 1994.

El tirano declaró el 5 de agosto de 1994, el día del Maleconazo y tres semanas después de ocurrida la masacre del remolcador:

Tan pronto llegaron las noticias del accidente del remolcador, se realizó de inmediato una investigación profunda y exhaustiva,…

El dictamen de la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH) desmintió al peor dictador que ha sufrido Occidente:

la investigación realizada por el Estado cubano no habría sido suficientemente exhaustiva si tenemos en cuenta que no se rescató la embarcación hundida -la cual contenía en su cuarto de máquinas muchos de los cadáveres que perecieron en el naufragio- ni los cuerpos que yacían en el fondo del mar.

Según la CIDH:

…el Estado cubano no emprendió con seriedad y como un deber jurídico propio las investigaciones en el presente caso. El resultado de ello es la impunidad en que se mantiene el mismo. Por consiguiente, la Comisión considera que el Estado cubano por omisión violó el derecho a la justicia…

¿Por qué han trascurrido más de veinte años sin que se haya celebrado un juicio, tal y como se hace por accidentes de tránsito o de trenes?

Se ha documentado el costo en vidas humanas de esa entelequia llamada revolución cubana. Hasta el 15 de diciembre de 2008, se tiene:

  • Fusilamientos, asesinatos y desapariciones: 5.732.
  • Muertes en prisión por negligencia médica, suicidio y accidente: 515.
  • Trece presos políticos cubanos han muerto en huelga de hambre.
  • Se ha podido documentar que 216 mujeres y niñas cubanas murieron por razones políticas de 1959 a 2003. Esa cifra no incluye las mujeres y niñas que resultaron muertas al intentar irse de Cuba.
  • Se estima que al tratar de escapar de Cuba han muerto en el mar más de setenta y siete mil personas. Esta cantidad se ha obtenido mediante un procedimiento econométrico.
  • Se estima que en guerras en el extranjero han muerto más de trece mil cubanos.

El costo del castrismo en vidas humanas ha continuado aumentando con el experimentado asesino serial Raúl Castro al frente de la tiranía. Para mayor detalle, puede consultar la Base de Datos.

El tirano no dudó en ordenar el fusilamiento de compañeros de armas, incluyendo el de comandantes como Humberto Sorí Marín y William Morgan. Rápidamente convirtió a Cuba en el Archipiélago Gulag de Occidente. En la década del sesenta unos sesenta mil cubanos -incluyendo a casi un centenar de mujeres- estaban presos por motivos políticos, la mayoría de los cuales habian sido condenados a largas penas de prisión.

Por ejemplo, Mario Chanes de Armas -compañero de Fidel Castro Ruz en el asalto al cuartel Moncada y en la expedición del yate Granma- cumplió 30 años de cárcel; otro luchador contra la dictadura de Batista, Eusebio Peñalver, estuvo encarcelado por la dictadura militar cubana durante más de 28 años -es el preso político de raza negra que más tiempo ha cumplido, superando a Nelson Mandela.

Entre las innumerables tropelías, asesinatos, torturas y otros crímenes cometidos por la tiranía castrista, el asesinato de mujeres y niños ocupa un lugar destacado.

Sólo la represión más brutal e implacable ha hecho posible el mantenimiento de ese régimen nefasto. Marxistas, liberales, socialistas, trotskistas, democristianos y anarquistas han sufrido difamación, ostracismo, destierro, cárcel, tortura y asesinato.

El filósofo socialista argentino Óscar del Barco reconoce que

Los llamados revolucionarios se convirtieron en asesinos seriales, desde Lenin, Trotzky, Stalin y Mao, hasta Fidel Castro y Ernesto Guevara.

El tirano fue el clásico lobo cubierto con una piel de oveja, engañó a todos y de qué forma. La revista Readers Digest (Selecciones) de enero de 1959 lo presenta como un joven de formación católica y refuta los rumores sobre una posible infiltración comunista en las filas del Ejército Rebelde. Él exhibe orgullosamente su collar con la imagen de la Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, la Patrona de Cuba. Del cuello de la mayoría de los integrantes del Ejército Rebelde cuelgan collares e imágenes de Santa Bárbara y la Caridad del Cobre. El sacerdote católico Guillermo Sardiñas es el capellán del Ejército Rebelde y Fidel Castro Ruz su Comandante en Jefe.

Él también desmentía la influencia comunista; por ejemplo, el 15 de enero de 1959 declaró: “yo no soy comunista; estoy diciendo la verdad”. Cuatro meses despues, el 8 de mayo ratificó: “nuestra revolución no es comunista”.

El tirano traicionó a todos los que lucharon por una Cuba libre, independiente y democrática. Canek Sánchez Guevara, el nieto mayor de Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, declaró:

La primera traición es que no se quería hacer tanto una revolución como recuperar la Constitución de 1940 y llegar a unas elecciones. Luego el proceso revolucionario se radicalizó, pero la propiedad privada pasó toda al Estado, que se convirtió en el nuevo patrón: los ciudadanos trabajan para el Estado, cobran del Estado y acaban gastando en el Estado; es el sueño de todo oligarca.

Martha Frayde Barraqué, médica cubana que luchó contra la tiranía de Batista y después sufrió la represión castrista, expresa:

Fidel Castro nos engaño a todos, empezando por mí. Los visionarios del primer momento fueron la minoría.

Samuel Farber, académico cubano que durante más de medio siglo ha sido una figura destacada de la izquierda internacional, señala:

De hecho, durante 1959 hubo una lucha ideológica dentro del Gobierno revolucionario entre los liberales como Roberto Agramonte y Elena Mederos, los antiimperialistas radicales como David Salvador, Faustino Pérez y Marcelo Fernández, y el ala procomunista encabezada por Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara y Raúl Castro, aliados en aquel momento con el PSP (Partido Socialista Popular) de los viejos estalinistas cubanos.

El tirano logró crear un sistema de desinformación de tal magnitud -que habría sido envidiado por el propio Joseph Goebbels, el ministro de propaganda nazi-, que le permitió que durante mucho tiempo sus crímenes casi no fueran conocidos. Aunque él mismo y la mayoría de la izquierda internacional han hecho lo imposible por hacerle creer al mundo que fue un pensador del marxismo contemporáneo, se ha demostrado fehacientemente que jamás fue marxista.

La revista Life entrevistó en enero de 1959 al comandante René de los Santos Ponce, un apasionado anticomunista. René era primo materno de mi padre y cercano colaborador de Fidel desde finales de la década del cuarenta. Por orden de este, René creó y dirigió el Departamento de Investigaciones del Ejército Rebelde (DIER), el antecesor del tenebroso Departamento de Seguridad del Estado. René fue jefe militar de Pinar del Río y Camagüey, y durante dos décadas ocupó altos cargos en el Partido Comunista, entre ellos, tercer jefe de su Comité de Control y Revisión. Hace unos veinte años hablé con René por útima vez; permanecía inalterable su anticomunismo y su fidelidad al tirano.

El 17 de abril de 1955, salió publicado en la revista Bohemia un artículo de Francisco Ichaso Macías (1901-1962), una de las figuras más destacadas del periodismo cubano, en el que se expresa:

Somos un pueblo desconcertante. Amamos la democracia, la soberanía, la libertad, y sin embargo hemos actuado como si todo eso nos importase un comino. Todos queremos la democracia, pero nos falta, en cambio, la voluntad para hacer por ella, todos los días, el trabajo menudo que exige su conservación. Nos acordamos de la democracia, como de Santa Bárbara, cuando truena poderosamente sobre ella.

Efectivamente, el cubano es un pueblo desconcertante. Si en 1959 los cubanos se hubieran acordado de la democracia, no hubiesen permitido que Fidel Castro Ruz incumpliese su compromiso con el pueblo cubano, recogido en el Manifiesto de la Sierra Maestra; si en 1959 los cubanos se hubieran acordado de la democracia, no hubiesen permitido que inmediatamente después de llegar al poder violase los derechos humanos y el debido proceso a los integrantes de la tiranía batistiana que cayeron en sus manos. Por ejemplo, los fusilamientos masivos y el segundo juicio a los aviadores.

Los sucesos ocurridos durante los tres primeros meses de 1959 debieron ser suficiente para que los cubanos se percatasen que los hermanos Castro no se guiaban por principios democráticos; esos hechos fueron el preámbulo de lo que vendría después, mucho peor que la tiranía de Batista –durante la misma se mantuvo la independencia del poder judicial y la libertad de prensa, excepto por cortos períodos en que se decretaba la censura, por lo que la población sabía que estaba ocurriendo algo que afectaba al gobierno, que no quería que se supiese.

Tres generaciones de cubanos hemos esperado infructuosamente que se realicen las elecciones en que se comprometió Fidel Castro Ruz. Mientras tanto, la comunidad internacional continúa guardando silencio cómplice. Los gobernantes de España, Uruguay y Chile no pueden alegar que desconocen las graves y sistemáticas violaciones a los derechos humanos realizados por la gerontocracia estalinista cubana, porque durante casi un año les estuve informando semanalmente de ello a los parlamentarios chilenos, uruguayos y españoles.

Aunque Fidel Castro Ruz murió en la cama, sin poder ser sometido a juicio, la historia lo condenará porque se ha ganado un lugar entre los dictadores más crueles de la era moderna; se codea con Pinochet, Stalin, Franco y Hitler.

El tirano ha muerto, pero todavía Cuba es el único país occidental donde es ilegal ser opositor. Cuánto dolor se hubiese ahorrado el pueblo cubano, si el mayor asesino serial y estafador nacido en las Américas hubiese muerto antes de abordar en el puerto de Tuxpan (México) el yate Granma, que lo llevaría a Cuba junto a 81 expedicionarios para comenzar una guerra de guerrillas contra el dictador Fulgencio Batista, guerra en la que Fidel Castro Ruz nunca combatió, al igual que tampoco lo hizo en el Moncada. ¡Qué clase de Comandante en Jefe, el clásico capitán araña!


[Lee más sobre Fidel Castro Ruz y su legado, desde perspectivas diversas en español e inglés, en nuestra página de Facebook.]


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apartheid system

The Arabs did it

by Uri Avnery — Gush Shalom

When my parents married in Germany, just before World War I, among the gifts was a document attesting that a tree had been planted in their name in Palestine.

My father was an early Zionist. Popular Jewish humor in Germany at that time had it that “a Zionist is a Jew who wants to take money from another Jew in order to settle a third Jew in Palestine.” My father certainly was not planning to go to Palestine himself.

Palestine was then a country bereft of ornamental trees. The Arab inhabitants cultivated olive trees, from which they made their scant living, and at that time the citrus trees were introduced. The olive tree is native — already in the Biblical story of Noah’s ark, the dove fetches an olive leaf as a sign of life.

According to popular legend, during that war the Turkish administration cut down the trees in order to build a railway across the Sinai peninsula and dislodge the British from the Suez Canal. However, the British crossed the Sinai in the other direction and conquered Palestine.

After that war the Zionists started to come to the country en masse. Among many other things, they started to plant trees in large quantities. Real forests sprang up, though compared with Russian or European forests they were pitiful.

The Zionists did not ask themselves why the country was bereft of so many kinds of trees. The obvious answer was that the Arabs didn’t care, that’s just the kind of people they are. No love for the country. No love for trees.

The Zionist movement was full of self-confidence. They could do anything they set their mind to. They hated the Palestinian landscape as it was. They were going to create a different country. When David Ben-Gurion, a 20-year old youngster, landed at Jaffa in 1906, he was utterly disgusted. “Is this the land of our fathers?” he cried out.

So the Zionists set out to change the landscape. They imported beautiful trees from all over the world and planted forests wherever they could: along the road from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, on Mount Carmel and many other places. They were beautiful.

The new immigrants did not ask themselves why the country, which had been populated since the beginning of time and remained so continuously to this day, had been so empty of these kinds of trees. Obviously, it was the fault of the Arabs.

Actually, the reason was quite different. Palestine suffers from an extreme shortage of rainfall. Every few years or so there is a drought, the country dries up, and fires break out all over the place. The trees which are not suited to this country just burn up.

Six years ago there was a warning. A large fire broke out on Mount Carmel. It consumed large portions of the forest and killed 47 policemen, who were caught by the fire while on their way to evacuate a prison.

Two weeks ago it happened in earnest. For eight months there was hardly a drop of rain. A strong, hot, east wind blew in from the desert. The land dried up. Any little spark could have started a major fire.

Suddenly the land was on fire. About 150 separate fires broke out, many of them near Haifa, Israel’s third largest town. Haifa is beautiful, rather like Naples, and several of its suburbs are surrounded by trees. No one had thought about safe distances or such.

Several neighborhoods caught fire. Almost eighty thousand inhabitants had to be evacuated, leaving their life-long belongings behind. Many apartments were destroyed by fire. It was heart-breaking.

The fire-fighters did their best. They worked around the clock. No lives were lost. With hoses on the ground and light fire-fighting airplanes in the air, they gradually brought the calamity under control.

How did the fires break out? Under the prevailing climatic conditions, any little spark could have caused a major disaster. A campfire not properly extinguished, a burning cigarette thrown from a passing car, an overturned hookah.

But that is not dramatic enough for news media, and even less for politicians. Soon enough the country was full of accusations: The Arabs Did It. Of course. Who else? TV was full of people who had actually seen Arabs setting forests alight.

Then Binyamin Netanyahu appeared on screen. Clad in a fashionable battle-dress, surrounded by his minions, he declared that it was all the work of Arab terrorists. It was an “Intifada of Fire.” Fortunately, Israel has a savior: he himself. He had taken control, summoned an American supertanker and several other foreign fire-fighting planes. Israelis could go back to sleep.

In reality, all this was nonsense. The brave fire-fighters and policemen had already done their job. Netanyahu’s intervention was superfluous, indeed harmful.

During the last great fire, six years ago, on the Carmel, Netanyahu had played the same role and summoned a giant American fire-fighting plane. It had done a good job over the forest. This time, near human neighborhoods, it could do nothing. In settled neighborhoods, the super-tanker was useless. Netanyahu summoned it, had himself photographed with it, and that was that.

The accusation of the Arab citizens as responsible for the catastrophe was much more serious. When Netanyahu raised it, he was widely believed.

The semi-fascist minister of education, Naftali Bennett, argued that the fire proved that the country belongs to the Jews, since the Arabs had set it on fire.

Many Arab citizens were rounded up and interrogated. Most were released. In the end it appeared that perhaps about two percent of the fires were started by Arab youngsters as acts of revenge.

Haifa is a mixed city, with a large Arab population. Generally, relations between Arabs and Jews there are good, sometimes even cordial. The two communities faced the new danger together, Arab villages opened their homes to Jewish refugees from the fire. Mahmoud Abbas, the chief of the Palestinian Authority in the occupied territories, also sent his firefighters into Israel to help out.

Netanyahu’s incendiary speeches, making wild (and quite unproven) accusations against the Arab citizens and against Arab workers from the occupied territories, did not catch on.

So this political fire, too, was suppressed before it could do too much damage. As the days pass, the accusations recede, but the damage they caused remains.

(When I served in the army, long ago, my company was awarded the honorary title “Samson’s Foxes.” Samson, the biblical hero, attached firebrands to the tails of foxes and sent them into the fields of the Philistines.)

The fire should provide food for thought.

If Netanyahu and his minions are right and “the Arabs” are intent on throwing us out of the country by any means, including fire, what is the answer?

The easy answer is: Throw them out, instead.

Logical, but impracticable. There are now more than six and a half million Arab Palestinians in Greater Israel — Israel proper, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), and the Gaza Strip. The number of Jews is about the same. In today’s world, you just cannot expel such numbers.

So we are condemned to live close together — either in two states, a proposal rejected by Netanyahu, or in one state, which would be either an apartheid state or a bi-national state.

If one believes, as Netanyahu and his followers do, that every Arab is a potential “fire terrorist” — how will anyone in the joint state be able to sleep at night?

Only some Arabs have guns. Only some have cars, with which to run over Jews. Only some can make explosives. But everyone has matches. Given a dry season, the sky is the limit.

By the way, just by chance, this week I saw a German TV program about a Swiss village, high up in the Alps. From time to time, a very dry hot wind, called Foehn, blows over it from the south. Twice in living memory the village has burnt down. All without an Arab in sight.

In Israel, the fire brigades belong to the local authorities, providing patronage and salaries to local party hacks.

In June 1968, as a young member of the Knesset, I came up with a revolutionary proposal: to abolish all the local fire-fighting departments and set up a united, national fire-fighting service, like the police. Such a force, I argued, could plan for all eventualities, prepare adequate equipment and allocate the necessary resources.

Contrary to their habit of heaping abuse on my proposals, my adversaries took this one seriously. The minister in charge acknowledged that it was a good idea, but added that “its time has not yet come.”

Now, 48 years later, the time has evidently still not arrived.

Instead, the Great Fire has.

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Comunicado sobre situación de periodista holandés

por el Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores

La Cancillería panameña ha brindado toda el apoyo posible a las autoridades y Embajada de los Países Bajos en Panamá, en relación con el ciudadano Okke Ornstein, quien enfrenta procesos judiciales iniciados en 2011 y 2012 por el ciudadano canadiense Monte Morris Friesner y los señores Patricius Johannes Visser, Kerrn Visser y Maurice Sjerps.

Ornstein se encuentra privado de libertad tras haber sido condenado bajo cargos de calumnia e injuria en contra de los señores antes señalados por 8 y 20 meses respectivamente.

De acuerdo con el Órgano Judicial, el Sr. Ornstein enfrentó procesos judiciales iniciados en el año 2011 que cumplieron con las normas del debido proceso, según las leyes vigentes en la República de Panamá y, en todo momento, tuvo representación legal para su defensa.

Aún cuando el Gobierno panameño no puede intervenir en procesos judiciales, la Cancillería ha dado y continuará dando apoyo informativo cuando las autoridades de los Países Bajos así lo requiera.

Panamá ha estado evolucionando su legislación en esta materia ya que en la actualidad sólo pueden recurrir a tribunales penales por el delito de Calumnia e Injuria las personas particulares que no sean personas públicas.

Aun así, el Gobierno de Panamá ha dado seguimiento cercano a este caso y brinda las atenciones correspondientes al Sr. Ornstein por su actividad profesional como periodista, y en base al firme compromiso del Gobierno de la República de Panamá con el respeto a la libertad de expresión y a los Derechos Humanos.

Panamá continua trabajando arduamente a lo interno del país y con la Comunidad Internacional para seguir elevando los estándares en esta materia.


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Okke Ornstein, Panama’s criminal defamation laws,
the Panama Papers and their business context

by Eric Jackson

Panama is under worldwide economic pressure because a law firm, one of whose partners was President Varela’s minister without portfolio and right-hand man, was shown to have as one of its principal business activities the hiding of the proceeds of many criminal activities, tax evasion most of all but also a lot of bribery and theft of public assets by politically connected individuals (among other rackets). The response that all of this is legal under Panamanian law and the real crime is the disruption of attorney-client privilege inherent in the massive document leak leaves most of the world unmoved.

Now, as human rights activists from around the Americas gather in Panama for the hearings of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission at the same time as journalists and anti-corruption activists from around the world gather for an anti-corruption summit here, Panama has jailed Dutch journalist Okke Ornstein for unflattering stories about a Canadian career criminal, Monte Friesner, who has been represented by the law firm of Panama City mayor José Isabel Blandón, who is also a member of President Varela’s Panameñista Party. Friesner has deployed fake news specialist Kenneth Rijock, and various folks of the alt-right persuasion have piled on, to hail Ornstein’s imprisonment. One thing that they have not done, however, is point out any particular thing that Ornstein wrote about Friesner and demonstrate that it was untrue.

The news in Brazil is pausing for a moment of shock and morning following the world-class tragedy of one its soccer teams’ demise in a plane crash near Medellin. Put on hold for just a moment — but actually we can expect that certain things will continue to move in order to take advantage of a window of opportunity when the Brazilian press and public are not paying attention — is the drumbeat of corruption investigations and political scandals that’s rocking Brazil with no end in sight. The apparent defeat of a proposed impunity law means that the books will not be quickly slammed shut and the testimony silenced. That means that jailed Marcelo Odebrecht is going to testify for the public record about bribes paid by his giant construction company to Panamanian public officials, corporate records sent to Panama to disappear and illegal financial transactions laundered through chains of shell companies set up by Panamanian lawyers. The defeat of the immunity proposal means that even more Brazilian politicians — the folks behind the impeachment of former President Dilma Rousseff and installation of current President Michel Temer — are going to fall and it’s a very good bet that many of their stories will involve bribe money laundered through Panama.

And so it is and has been in Pakistan and Spain and Iceland and Malta and so many other jurisdictions.

The Varela administration’s response? A new law providing that whatever crimes involving corruption by companies doing business with the Panamanian government that are proven in other countries’ courts didn’t happen because the Panamanian courts that avoided looking at these companies did not rule against them. Such a convenient policy, given US, Italian and Brazilian courts’ and prosecutors’ revelations about the bribery of Panamanian public officials.

Not to worry, nothing out of the ordinary here, we are told. You see, Panama is a “privacy jurisdiction.” Perhaps the new administration coming into office in the United States will be friendly to that sort of thing.

To be a “privacy jurisdiction,” Panama not only has banking and corporate secrecy. We also have a Supreme Court decision by a now-imprisoned magistrate that legalizes insider trading of stock shares that are not traded on Panama’s little exchange, and another high court decision that Generally Accepted Accounting Principles are unconstitutional. Although there are some minimal disclosure rules for companies whose shares or bonds are traded on our Bolsa de Valores, those get routinely flouted with little or no consequence. If someone in this country, Panamanian or foreigener, runs an online swindle from these shores or a pyramid scheme within our borders police and prosecutors will not act if the victims are not Panamanian citizens. It’s a wonderful privacy jurisdiction, certified as such by “sovereign investor” Bob Bauman, who was this “family values” Republican congressman from Maryland until he got caught with that 16-year-old boy. Had he been a Panamanian politician, publication of a truthful account of that event would have been a crime under this country’s injuria law, one of the of the two laws that make up Panama’s calumnia e injuria criminal defamation statute. Nominally truth is a defense to calumnia, but it isn’t to injuria — but then in Panama, facts and law can mean almost nothing to many of our judges, especially if the price is right.

Varela appointed a commission to look at the Panama Papers situation and quickly offended its two international stars, American economist Joseph Stiglitz and Swiss criminologist Mark Pieth. They broke away and published a scathing report, calling for worldwide sanctions against “privacy jurisidictions” like Panama. A few days later the remaining members of the commission, with former Panama Canal administrator Alberto Alemán Zubeita speaking for them, announced a set of recommendations for mostly cosmetic changes, mostly to the ways that corporate secrecy laws are to be preserved with a tweak here and there.

Alemán Zubieta, of course, was the guy who oversaw the acceptance of a lowball bid for the design and construction of the new locks by the GUPC consortium, a junior partner of which was his family’s CUSA construction company. But don’t worry. There was no conflict of interest because the Panama Canal Authority under Alemán Zubieta’s leadership declared that there was no conflict of interest.

What if Donald Trump does not come to the rescue of Panama’s oligarchic law firms, banks and other businesses founded on money laundering of one sort or another? What do we do when all we have is a canal, some ports and adjacent warehouses and a railroad to connect them? What do we do when chanting “offshore” no longer passes for business journalism?

Then we will be left with a body of laws and customs, including the criminal defamation statute, which makes it rather like playing “heads I win, tails you lose” for those who would invest in straight-up business ventues here. The criminal element about which investors would want to know so as to steer clear would remain lurking in camouflage.

Okke Ornstein’s accuser

What President Juan Carlos Varela is telling the world by his govenment’s jailing of Dutch journalist Okke Ornstein is that career criminals have governmental protection against public and private scrutiny. Consider the half-century criminal record of accuser Monte Morris Friesner. My apologies to those of you who do not read Spanish for the untranslated Spanish in some of the links, and the Russian in one of them.

The COCECSS / Pronto Cash credit card scheme in Panama

Pronto Cash was registered in the name of his Russian wife, but it was Monte Friesner. This is but a small corner of a much larger Financial Pacific set of financial scandals.

See also, tangential but important background:

Laundering the Yeltsin entourage’s loot

The Russian Duma on Friesner — a bad translation that gets him as “Frizer” — as in

“… foreign nationals of Canada Monte Maurice Frizer, Lawrence Hiz, managers of Carlyle Coutts Capital Corpartion SA, etc. All these activities of Zagrebelniy and persons to whom he gave the right to receive credit, are constantly under the cover of the special services of Russia. …”


An attempted stock swindle in Canada

Ontario Securities Commission on Friesner and “First Federal Capital (Canada) Corporation” case:

… at the bottom of page 20:

“Friesner has a criminal record. In 1966 he received a suspended sentence and nine months probation for possession of property obtained by crime. He failed to comply with probation. In 1969 he was sentenced to two years less a day for uttering a forged document in attempted fraud. He was convicted of other offences, namely common assault, arson, assault causing bodily harm, theft over $200, on various occasions up to 1986. … [then they get into his US fraud conviction — see the appeals court opinion on that below].

Fraud and money laundering conviction upheld in the USA

The 10th Circuit US Court of Appeals called Friesner “a consummate fraud artist” in its decision at


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