| Friday 18th August 2006 |
WAKE UP! IT'S YER
The Fidel | Crap Arrest Of The Week |
Face The Base | Minimum Rage
| Losing Their Bottle | Inside SchNEWS
| Danger Money | SchNEWS in Brief
| ...and finally...
BATTLE FOR THE FUTURE OF CUBA
Fidel Castros laid up in bed, with possibly weeks to live.
Hes had to hand the reins of power to his brother Raul, only
five years younger and not terribly popular. Cubas status
as an alternative model of development for Latin America is clearly
under threat. Over the water in Miami thousands of exiled Cubans
were disappointed that Old Fifi made his 80th birthday earlier this
week (13th August) but its the end of an era and what happens
next is the hot topic on the streets of Havana.
Although Cuba is often caricatured as a straightforward dictatorship,
theres a lot more democracy at the community level and an
extraordinary level of workplace labour organisation. The old guard
have been trying to win over the post-revolutionary generation,
but theyre now up against the sparkles of consumer capitalism.
After the 1959 revolution, the US embargoed Cuba, forcing them to
rely on the USSRs to buy their staple crop - sugar. When the
Soviet Union collapsed the economy was forced to hustle for the
tourist dollar. As a result, Cubans have faced growing inequalities
between those with access to hard currency through tourism or family
abroad, and those depending on meagre state salaries and the black
economy. Cubas tourism boom has brought the population into
contact with the high spending west and their consumer lifestyles.
Extensive migration from Cuba has followed. Other Latinos wanting
to get in on the American dream face a heavily armed Mexican border
but in a cynical attempt to undermine the islands economy,
Cubans who flee to the US are given a leg-up and, since 1959, been
treated better than any other migrants. Within one year they get
residency, grants for education and healthcare and access to a large
ex-pat network. After thousands of Cubans tried to cross the Florida
Straits in the 1990s in flimsy rafts, in 1996 the US granted 20,000
visas a year for Cubans - more than the number granted for the rest
of the world.
Ironically, as a result of 40 years separate development and having
been spared the CIA-sponsored military dictatorships inflicted on
the rest of South America, Cuba has a highly literate and educated
population and a diversified economy just ripe for a bit
Exiled Cuban-Americans, and their multi-million dollar pals in
companies like Bacardi, who lost the lot in 59 now see the
chance to get their land, businesses and control back.
Dubya Bushs Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba 2004
report states clearly that US Inc wants to bring Cuba back under
its control. They will support a democratic transition
in Cuba if corporations get a free rein and if Fidel, Raul and other
members of the government are barred from participating in elections!
The Commission has recently pointed out that they are urgently working
to ensure that the Castro regimes succession strategy
does not succeed, and that their work, demonstrates
that we are actively working for change in Cuba, not simply waiting
for change. The Department of State has emphasized that the
plan includes measures that will remain secret for reasons
of national security and to assure its effective implementation.
So its time to expect the usual sabotage, subterfuge and CIA
Although the country doesnt have enough oil to make it a
member of the Axis of Evil, Cuba has been identified
as one of the seven countries which sponsor international terrorism.
But perhaps the White House should have looked a little closer to
home to find some international terrorists. There is a long history
of CIA involvement in Cuba (They tried to kill Fidel with a cigar
etc). In the 1980s, Mexican, Nicaraguan and Venezuelan embassies
were attacked because of their links to Cuba and a Cuban-friendly
Chilean ambassador was murdered in 1976. In the same year Cuban-exiled
Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles orchestrated the bombing
of a Cubana plane killing 73, which was to be just one of over 50
bombings they were involved in during Posadas time on the
CIA pay-roll. More recently, companies which have tried to open
economic relations with Cuba have had their offices bombed, including
Shell, Air France, Japan Airlines and Air Canada.
These attacks go largely unreported by a Miami press which is controlled
by the very same Cuban exiles who collaborate in the intimidation.
One radio station set up as an alternative to the usual far right
anti-Castro rants and calling for normalised relations with Cuba
was bombed twice, employees beaten up and death threats made to
sponsors of the station. Until 2000, Miami City employees had to
sign a pledge that they had never been a member of the Communist
Party. In the space of just three years there were more than 100
politically motivated attacks. A car bomb blew the legs off a news
director for condemning exile violence, and the culprits of this
and other similar bombings not only walk free but are referred to
by the mayor of Miami as freedom fighters. And its
the same people who helped to fund the illegal invasion of Nicaragua
during the Contra War in the 1980s. One of the organisers of the
Contra force was the Cuban American National Foundation, which helped
to run clandestine operations, directed by the White House and CIA.
Miami is primarily run by a pro-Batista* cartel that set up in
Miami in similar style of gangsterismo as 1950s Havana - running
protection rackets, drug cartels and illegal gambling. These far
right anti-Castro Cuban exiles may be the minority in Miami, but
they own and run the media, government and business contracts -
and make a fortune in the process. Judges are bribed and corrupt
prosecutors will do what they can not to prosecute, even when confronted
with overwhelming evidence. Vote rigging, embezzlement of funds
and larceny are par for the course. It is these people who want
to get their hands on power in Cuba.
The autonomous development of Cuba has been under threat since
the revolution. US Inc. has never wavered in its opposition to this
socialist thorn in its side. Forty years of communist rule have
led to, by European standards, an authoritarian regime and yet side-by-side
with the Latin American norm - a peasant economy dominated by a
US-affiliated elite - it stands out as a triumph. Will Cuba stand
by the progressive ideals of 1959 or bend its knee to a weak puppet
democracy? With Venezuela, Bolivia and to certain extent Brazil
bucking the US line the result of the battle is not a foregone conclusion.
For a delve into Miamis danger world, a tabloidesque gossip
about Castros personal life and the Havana/Miami vendetta
read Cuba Confidential: The extraordinary tragedy of Cuba
its Revolution and its exiles by Ann Louise Bardoch, Penguin
* (the dictator overthrown by the Cuban Revolution)
Crap Arrest Of The Week
For having housemates...
An Italian Earth Liberation Front activist has been jailed for
breaching the terms of her house arrest. Chiara Sacchetti was arrested
for allegedly planning to blow up electricity pylons carrying nuclear
energy. She was released on bail on the condition that she didnt
meet with any of the other suspects in the case. However the other
suspects were also on house arrest and this is where it starts getting
tricky. Chiara actually lives with the other suspects in the case,
and so a chance encounter over Sunday lunch was probably on the
cards at some point...
For more see: www.spiritoffreedom.org.uk
FACE THE BASE
Last Sunday a peace camp was established at RAF Mildenhall (well
used by the USAF), Suffolk, just off the A1101 next to the base.
The camp is getting good local support, squatting land not owned
by the council or MOD, and is calling out for more people now. A
camper told SchNEWS Just because theres a ceasefire
in Lebanon, that doesnt mean that there arent still
a lot of US military planes taking off from Mildenhall every day:
spy planes, weapons, rendition and special operations flights. We
will stay here as long as we can sustain it. The camp is logging
all flights using the inside knowledge of an ex-air force planespotter.
During the attacks on Lebanon, Israeli arms landed there after being
diverted from Prestwick during three days of protest by Trident
Ploughshares (See SchNEWS 555).
This area of East Anglia is host not only to RAF Mildenhall
the longest military runway in Europe, but also RAF Lakenheath -
the largest and most important tactical nuclear bombing base in
Europe used to store US nuclear weapons, and RAF Feltwell - a US
communications, surveillance and missile tracking base. For more
Get down to the camp even for the day - bring a tent or
there is some accommodation available but contact first. Site number
is 07760 171655.
* The camp at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire - which had been used
for US flights carrying munitions to Israel closed this week.
1000 Workers at a factory in southern China which produces toys
for McDonalds, Disney and others rioted for two days last month
in protest against conditions. It took 100 factory policemen, riot
squad and security guards to put the insurrection down, leaving
dozens of workers injured and arrested.
The workers at the Hengli Factory in Guangdong province kicked
off over working conditions which make most McJobs look like a picnic.
They typically do 66 hour weeks, with 70 hours overtime a month,
and earn $75-100 a month. Pay is deducted for those who refuse to
work overtime (which is paid only at the regular flat rates of course).
With no base salary, they are paid per piece, and arent paid
for holidays or sick leave. And forget medical insurance or pensions.
The Hong Kong company which owns the factory, Merton Co Ltd, export
the toys to the US and Canada, with half going to McDonalds. For
more see www.china-labour.org.hk
Also in China, at the end of July, our friends in the Worlds
biggest retailer Walmart were forced to admit defeat
in a two-year battle against allowing any unionising for its 28,000
Chinese employees (more than 75% of its products are made there).
Unions will now be established and it is hoped it may set a precedent
for other foreign companies in China, of which only 30% currently
However, thats not to say any of this will really benefit
the workers. As one a western diplomat said, Chinese unions
have no bargaining power because the labour market is so flooded
with workers. For the government, the formation of official unions
is a way to control workers because they are less likely to strike.
While China is now drafting a labour contract law to allow unions
to participate in some management discussions on personnel issues,
European and American chambers of commerce are opposing the draft
because they say it gives too much power to the employees. Global
Inc. is more than happy with the current near slave-like arrangements,
thank you very much have a nice day!
* Keep an eye on China at www.worldwatch.org
LOSING THEIR BOTTLE
Following a long-running local resistance campaign (see SchNEWS
501), Atlanta-based aspartame-peddlers, (One of the cancer-causing
chemical sweeteners used in diet drinks see www.dorway.com)
Coca-Cola have fallen flat in India once again. In recent months
effective protest hit one of the countrys largest bottling
plants, situated in Mehdiganj. Activists initiated an indefinite
vigil outside of the factory, starting in March this year, and,
being disappointed by the lack of action on side of the government,
finally started a hunger strike on June 23rd. They were supported
by almost 1000 from surrounding villages who engaged themselves
in a number of creative projects. In July they ended the vigil and
hunger strike after governmental authorities assured them they would
After reviewing several studies showing that both Coke and Pepsi
had 24 times the level of noxious chemicals (mainly pesticide residues)
in them than their European counterparts, the southern Indian state
of Kerala has become the latest state to ban both companies from
producing their foul spew. Coke tried to hit back, producing its
own results from a UK Government lab, which gave them a clean bill
of health. According to the Indian Centre for Science and Environment,
the companys contention that only a foreign laboratory
can test its products is patronising and borders on racism.
Their own samples came from local shops and were the real
This all follows a catalogue of abuse by the companies in India
(See SchNEWS 447), including Coke sucking
villages water-supply dry (which they take for free, of course)
and polluting the water table. It takes 4 litres of freshwater to
make one litre of the fizzy stuff, meaning that three quarters of
the water the companies extract ends up as polluted wastewater,
pumped back into the local environment. The Indian Supreme Court
has ordered Coca-Cola and PepsiCo to reveal the ingredients in their
products and potential toxic by-products - in six weeks,
or face a potential national ban (See www.IndiaResource.org).
Following another campaign by activists, Coke was recently ejected
from the £4.4billion TIAA-CREF Social Choice Account, an investment
fund which buys shares according to social criteria. Better still,
Cube Microplex, an alternative cinema in central Bristol, have begun
brewing their own, cruelty-free, version of coke - for the recipe
* Read a report on the fizz-barons by the Centre for Science and
Environment at www.cseindia.org
* Make sure you dont accidentally buy any Coke products masquerading
as healthy options by checking www2.coca-cola.com/brands/brandlist.html
for full list.
Rod Coronado has been sentenced to eight months, as well
as three years supervised probation, for his role in an Earth First!
mountain lion hunt sabotage. After both being accused of spreading
false scents and pulling up a sensor and trap, his co-defendant
Matthew Crozier has also been given a non-custodial sentence with
three years of probation and 100 hours community service. Both have
been ordered not to associate with members of the Animal Liberation
Front, Earth Liberation Front, Earth First and other groups. His
postal address is Rodney Coronado #03895000, CCA Central Arizona
Detention Center, PO Box 6300, Florence, AZ 85232, USA. For more
In the UKs contracted out workplaces, one 16-24
year old will be killed at work every month, with one seriously
injured every 40 minutes. SchNEWS lost a friend in 1998 when Simon
Jones was killed on his first day of work unloading cargo from the
hold of a ship. He had only a few minutes training and hours later
was killed when the grab of a crane crushed his head (See SchNEWS
Company bosses, with an ever careful eye on profits, are failing
to be careful with their employees, skimping on providing health
and safety training. Almost a million young workers are in insecure
or temporary employment, where they are less likely to be trained
properly. Research by the Trades Union Congress found that over
one third of 15 - 24 year olds had received little or no health
and safety training. So whats UK Plcs response to this
problem? A 20% cut in staff at the Health and Safety Executive
following a 25% reduction in inspections over the past three years!
As SchNEWS has said before If you want to kill someone, become
a boss and do it at work. Then youll get away with it.
* If youre facked off with bosses putting profit before worker
safety contact Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) www.fack.org.uk,
0161 636 7557. For more about Simon Jones see www.simonjones.org.uk
SchNEWS in Brief
- Noise Demo against EDO MBM, Homefarm Rd, Brighton every
Weds 4-6pm; Smash EDO Phone Blockade Tues 29th, call 01273 810
500; Smash EDO Mass Demo - Sat 16th Sept. Meet 12 noon at the
- Want to Stop Nuclear? London Faslane 365 meeting. Sat
19th, 3pm at Everything4Everyone, 4 Dalston Lane, Hackney, E8
(Opposite the Peace Mural). See www.faslane365.org
- 29th Aug to 10th Sept. Failed States - a play Inspired
by Kafkas The Trial, about the world fixated by the threat
of terror and the promise of counter-terrorism. Barons Court Theatre,
Kensington. Tickets via venue: 020 8932 4747, £10/£8
concessions in week (£12/£10 Fri/Sat)
- The anti-war protest at the Israeli Embassy this Sat
19th has been cancelled, but others in Barnstable, Barrow, Brighton,
Cambridge, Camden, Newcastle, Sheffield, and York are still going
ahead. For details see www.stopwar.org.uk
- A Gay Pride event in Tallinn, Estonia was attacked by
fascists, with 15 people injured, but this and a bomb scare didnt
stop the Pride march from going ahead. The march was a culmination
of a week-long series of related events in the capital. See www.gayrussia.ru/en
Suspicious about the Kennedy assassination? Reckon 9/11 was faked
with holograms? Think Elvis was a lizard? Are you wearing a birdcage
wrapped in tinfoil on your head to stop Illuminati mind control...
Well get this, the U.S. government has misplaced the
original recording of the first moon landing, including astronaut
Neil Armstrongs famous one small step for man, one giant
leap for mankind speech. Unperturbed by the widespread whispers
that the whole thing was faked in a shed in Nevada, an unruffled
NASA spokesman Mr Hautoloma casually revealed, We havent
seen them for quite a while. Weve been looking for over a
year and they havent turned up. I wouldnt say were
worried - weve got all the data. Were looking for paperwork
to see where they last were. Presumably, its like when
you lend some old X-Files videos to a mate but you cant remember
who itll turn up, just ask around! Perhaps its down
the back of the Bilderberg sofa The truth is out there...er,
SchNEWS warns all readers dont go SchCuba
diving - youll soon be out of your depth... Honest!
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