POLITICS

Castro: Harper Gets Editorial Treatment From Cuba's Former Leader

04/09/2012 02:20 EDT | Updated 04/09/2012 05:20 EDT
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OTTAWA -- Cuba's former leader Fidel Castro is criticizing Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his government for environmental damage caused by the extraction of crude from the Alberta oilsands.

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The father of Cuba's communist revolution of more than half a century ago offered the observation in a characteristically rambling new essay on the state of hemispheric affairs that was published over the weekend.

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The ailing octogenarian handed the Cuban presidency to his brother, Raul, four years ago, but still periodically offers up his musings on the world in postings on his government's website.

"Stephen Harper's Illusions'' is his latest instalment.

In it, Castro claims that the United States -- a country he loathes because of its economically crippling embargo -- is forcing Canada to extract oil, which is causing irreparable damage to the environment.

"I knew about the damage caused by the Yankees to the people of Canada,'' the essay said. "They forced the country to look for oil by extracting it from huge extensions of sand that are impregnated with that fluid, thus causing an irreparable damage to the environment of that beautiful and extensive country.''

He also accuses Canadian mining companies of harming millions of people throughout Latin America.

At 1,200 words, Castro's latest screed is mercifully short, compared with the day-long marathon speeches of his heyday.

But as always, the dictator lacks a decent editor.

Of Canada's mining companies, he references a previous article that he says, "provides further details about an issue that has been identified innumerable times as one of the main scourges that affect millions of persons, stated that mining companies, 60 per cent of which are financed with Canadian capital, worked following the logic of maximum yield at a low cost and in a short time; and that these conditions turn out to be all the more advantageous if in the places where they are stationed, tax revenues are minimal and there are very few environmental and social commitments..."

Castro covers several topics, from Argentina's claim on the Falkland Islands to Cuba's continued exclusion from the Organization of American States.

Without naming John Baird, he wonders how Canada's top diplomat views the disagreement over the Falklands, which Argentina calls the Malvinas.

"The honourable foreign minister of Canada does not dare to say whether or not he supports Argentina in the thorny issue of the Malvinas Islands. He has only expressed beatific wishes for peace to prevail between the two countries.''

Castro remains troubled by Cuba's continued exclusion from the OAS, the 35-member bloc that includes Canada and the United States. Harper is to attend an OAS summit in Colombia later this week.

Cuba has been suspended from the group since the early 1960s.

Castro finds an apparent irony in the fact that traditional Cuban-designed guayabera shirts will be worn by OAS leaders at the summit.

"The Caribbean shirt was first made by the banks of the Yayabo River in Cuba; that is why they were originally called yayaberas,'' Castro writes.

"The curious thing about this, dear readers, is that Cuba has been forbidden to attend that meeting, but not the guayaberas. Who could hold back from laughing? We must hurry up and tell Harper.''

Harper's new chief spokesman, Andrew MacDougall, read Castro's missive Monday afternoon, and said:

"I'll take a pass. No comment.''

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Here is the complete text in English:

Stephen Harper’s Illusions

I think –and I do not intend to offend anyone- that this is how the Prime

Minister of Canada is called. I deduced it from a statement published on

“Holy Wednesday” by a spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry of that

country. The United Nations Organization membership is made up by almost

200 States –allegedly independent States. They continuously change or are

forced into change. Many of their representatives are honorable persons,

friends of Cuba; but it is impossible to remember the specifics about each and every one of them.

During the second half of the twentieth century, I had the privilege of

living through years of intensive erudition and I realized that Canadians,

located in the northernmost region of this hemisphere, were always

respectful towards our country. They invested in areas of their interest

and traded with Cuba, but they did not interfere in the internal affairs

of our State.

The revolutionary process that began on January 1st, 1959, did not

introduce any measure that affected their interests, which were taken into

account by the Revolution in maintaining normal and constructive relations

with the authorities of that country where a significant effort was being

made in the interest of its own development. Thus, they were not

accomplices of the economic blockade, the war and the mercenary invasion

that the United States launched against Cuba.

In May of 1948, the year that witnessed the foundation of the OAS, an

institution with a shameful history which did away with what little was

left from the dreams of the Liberators of the Americas, Canada was from

belonging to it. It kept that same status for more than 40 years, until

1990. Some of its leaders visited us. One of them was Pierre Elliott

Trudeau, a brilliant and courageous politician who died prematurely. We

attended his burial on behalf of Cuba.

The OAS is supposed to be a regional organization made up by the sovereign

States of this hemisphere. Such an assertion, like many others which are

made everyday, involves a great number of lies. The least we can do is to

be aware of them, if we are to preserve the spirit of struggle and our

confidence on a more decent world.

The OAS is supposed to be a pan-American organization. Any country in

Europe, Africa, Asia or Oceania could not belong to the OAS just because

it has a colony, as it is the case of France in Guadeloupe; or the

Netherlands in Curaçao. But the British colonialism could not define the

status of Canada and explain whether it was a colony, a republic or a kingdom.

The Head of State of Canada is Queen Elizabeth II, although she vests her

powers upon a Governor-General appointed by her. Therefore, we could ask

whether the United Kingdom is also part of the OAS.

Likewise, the Honorable Foreign Minister of Canada does not dare to say

whether or not he supports Argentina in the thorny issue of the Malvinas

Islands. He has only expressed beatific wishes for peace to prevail

between the two countries. But Great Britain has there its biggest

military base outside its territory in violation of Argentina’s

sovereignty. It did not apologize for having sunk the ‘General Belgrano’

cruiser which was sailing outside the jurisdictional waters that they

themselves established which led to the futile sacrifice of hundreds of

youths who were doing their military service. We should ask Obama and

Harper what stand they will take in the face of the fairest claim by

Argentina to be given back the sovereignty over the islands so that it is

no longer deprived of the energy and fishing resources it so much needs to

develop the country.

I was really amazed after I made a much deeper analysis of the activities

carried out by Canadian transnationals in Latin America. I knew about the

damage caused by the Yankees to the people of Canada. They forced the

country to look for oil by extracting it from huge extensions of sand that

are impregnated with that fluid, thus causing an irreparable damage to the

environment of that beautiful and extensive country.

The incredible damage was the one caused to millions of persons by the

Canadian companies specialized in the mining of gold, precious metals and

radioactive materials.

An article published by the website Alainet a week ago, signed by an

Engineer on Environmental Quality, which provides further details about

an issue that has been identified innumerable times as one of the main

scourges that affect millions of persons, stated that mining companies, 60

per cent of which are financed with Canadian capital, worked following the

logic of maximum yield at a low cost and in a short time; and that these

conditions turn out to be all the more advantageous if in the places where

they are stationed, tax revenues are minimal and there are very few

environmental and social commitments…

According to the article, the mining laws in our countries […] do not

include any obligation or methodology to control environmental or social

impacts; the tax revenues that mining companies pay to the countries of

the region are, as an average, no more than 1.5 per cent of the revenues

received.

The article adds that the social struggle against mining, particularly

metal mining, has been growing as long as entire generations are becoming

aware of the environmental and social impacts it causes.

It states that Guatemala has put up an admirable resistance against mining

projects, thanks to the indigenous populations’ awareness of the value of

their territories and their natural resources, which they consider a

priceless ancestral heritage. However, in the last 10 years, the

consequences of that struggle have been felt in the assassination of 120

human rights’ activists and advocators.

This article also describes the current situation in El Salvador,

Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, with figures that make us meditate

very deeply about the seriousness and harshness of the ruthless pillaging

that is being carried out against the natural resources of our countries,

thus mortgaging the future of Latin Americans.

The presence of Dilma Rousseff, who made a stopover in Washington while

traveling back to her country, will serve to persuade Obama that although

there are some who take great delight in making slushy speeches, Latin

America is far from being a choir of countries begging for alms.

The guayabera shirts to be worn by Obama in Cartagena has become one of

the main issues covered by the news agencies: “Edgar Gómez […] has

designed one for the US President, Barack Obama, who will be wearing it

during the Summit of the Americas”, said the daughter of the designer, who

added: “It is a white, sober guayabera, with a handiwork that is more

striking that usual…”

Immediately after that, the news agency added that the Caribbean shirt was

first made by the banks of the Yayabo River in Cuba; that is why they were

originally called yayaberas.

The curious thing about this, dear readers, is that Cuba has been

forbidden to attend that meeting, but not the guayaberas. Who could hold

back from laughing? We must hurry up and tell Harper.

Fidel Castro Ruz

April 8, 2012

8:24 p.m.