Nii Lante Vanderpuye

By Kent Mensah

The
MP for Odododiodoo constituency, Nii Lante Vanderpuije, has said he does not
believe in openly criticising the founder of the National Democratic Congress
(NDC), Jerry John Rawlings.

“I
don’t believe in the situation that, whereby the founder does something and I
go out there and criticise him in the open and I do something and the founder
go out there and criticize me in the open,” the outspoken politician stated.

He
stressed: “I still believe in the ideals and the things he stands for,” adding
the former president has been a “great inspiration.”

Speaking
on Accra-based Radio Gold, Vanderpuije advised that anytime an issue comes up
within the party, it must be dealt with as it is.

“If
we are in a party and I am doing something that is wrong, the best way to
address it as a party; I don’t believe in open criticisms, I don’t believe in
we standing on rooftop and criticising one another,” the former broadcaster
emphasised.

He
noted “for every one of us, what we should be doing is to use the party’s
structures, see ourselves as members of the same family and try and correct one
another.”

Editorial

IRAN

The
claim that the Islamic Republic of Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism is
laughable having regard to the fact that it has been and still is a victim of
terrorism.

A
needless imperialist war imposed on Iran through the proxy of Saddam Hussein’s
Iraq in the false hope that it would push the proud people of Iran on to their
knees begging for mercy.

Only
recently, Iranian scientists were assassinated by terrorists in the pay of
imperialism and Zionism with the aim of halting scientific advances made by the
revolution.

In
June this year, the Parliament of Iran was viciously attacked by gun men who
wanted to spread fear as a means of destabilising the country.

When
Iran attempts to fight back the terrorists, it is accused of state sponsored
terrorism.

Perhaps
the detractors of Iran want it to fold its arms in the face of aggression so
that they can sing the requiem mass for a country they love to hate.

The
Insight is convinced that Iran is not a state sponsor of terrorism but a strong
pillar against terrorism in all its manifestations.

We
declare our solidarity with the people of Iran in their bold confrontation with
terrorism.

Local
News:

Interdict BOST
Director– Minority

Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu

By
Marian Ansah & Duke Mensah Opoku

The
Minority in Parliament has called for the immediate interdiction of the
Managing Director of the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation (BOST)Company,
Alfred Obeng Boateng, over the sale of 5 million litres of contaminated fuel.

This
call comes barely 24-hours after 
ACEP also called on
the CEO to step aside for investigations into the matter.

According
to the Minority, the transaction between BOST and an unlicensed company,
Movenpiina, is fraught with irregularities and possible corruption to the
tune of 14.25 million cedis.

Addressing
the press, Minority Spokesperson on Mines and Energy, Armah Kofi Buah, argued
that “the justification by BOST that the contaminated products were sold for
use by manufacturing companies is untenable.”

“The
norm and practice is that, when such contamination occur, corrective treatment
of these products are undertaken by the Tema Oil Refinery through blending. Why
did BOST not arrange with TOR for the treatment of this particular fuel?
Available information indicates that BOST failed to exhaust all means to ensure
TOR blends this contaminated fuel.”

“The
argument by BOST that the blending couldn’t be done at TOR because the CDU is
down is most untenable,” Mr. Buah added.

Mr.
Buah, on behalf of the Minority  therefore demanded a full scale
investigation into the sale of the contaminated oil.

The
Minority also made the following requests:


Full scale investigation by the regulatory authorities
• The immediate withdrawal of the contaminated product from the market to
protect consumers and assurances that this will not recur.
• That the financial loss estimated at GHS 14.25 million be retrieved by
surcharging the offending officials at BOST in line with the recent Supreme
Court decision.

We
didn’t err in dealings with Movenpiina, ZUPOIL – BOST

The
Minority’s demands come hours after the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation
Company Limited (BOST), 
refuted claims it failed to carry out
due diligence in its award of contracts to Movenpiina and ZUPOIL with regards
to the sale 5 million litres of contaminated fuel.
BOST
in response to 
ACEP’s claim indicated in a
statement that its technical team inspected the facility of ZUPOIL “and was
satisfied.”

“BOST
deploys the use of bulk road vehicles that have tracking devices installed and
have dully met the requirements of NPA to haul products. Thus, rendering BOST
extremely responsible. Anyone with information on the illegal sale of the
product at the pumps should report to the appropriate authority for immediate
action.”

We didn’t err in dealings with
Movenpiina, ZUPOIL – BOST

Alfred Obeng, BOST CEO

By
Delali Adogla-Bessa

The
Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Company Limited (BOST), has refuted claims
it failed to carry out due diligence in its award of contracts to Movenpiina
and ZUPOIL with regards to the sale 5 million litres of contaminated fuel.

This claim was made by the
Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP).

Among
the claims, against BOST,  ACEP said the company’s management exhibited
unreasonable discretion in the award of the contract to Movenpiina and ZUPOIL.

ACEP
also held that, there was “a puzzle” about where ZUPOIL’s facility is located
and that BOST had not put in place measures to monitor the movement of the
product from ZUPOIL’s facilities to unsuspecting consumers.

But
BOST retorted in a statement that its technical team inspected the
facility of  ZUPOIL “and was satisfied.”

Also,
“the product released was going to be scheduled to reflect the capacity of the
facility at any point in time,” the statement added.

“BOST
deploys the use of bulk road vehicles that have tracking devices installed and
have dully met the requirements of NPA to haul products. Thus, rendering BOST
extremely responsible. Anyone with information on the illegal sale of the
product at the pumps should report to the appropriate authority for immediate
action.”

ACEP
also challenged BOST to show the public where the ZUPOIL storage facilities are
located but, BOST’s statement did not address that.

ACEP’s claims

ACEP
said Movenpiina initiated the transaction with BOST on 19th May, 2017, some ten
days before it became a legally recognized company in Ghana.

Also,
Movenpiina had not obtained the requisite license from the NPA to trade in the
industry, according to the centre.

ZUPOIL
LTD, the company which was named “the off-taker” was said to have a storage
facility that could accommodate the volume of product, but was not known in Ghana’s
petroleum industry.

Thus
ACEP said it was illegal for BOST to have engaged Movenpiina and ZUPOIL LTD in
the sale and storage of the off-spec petroleum product.

GHc 7 million lost in
dealings

The
claims follow the revelation Ghana is said to have lost about GHc 7 million in
revenue following attempts by the BOST to sell the contaminated fuel to some
oil marketing companies.

Documents
sighted by Citi News indicate that, BOST agreed to sell about GHc 5
million litres of the contaminated fuel to Movenpiina.

Following
the controversy, ACEP has called on the Chief Executive Officer of BOST, Alfred
Obeng, to step aside for a full-scale investigation into the alleged sale of
contaminated fuel.

Use Chinese support to make
Ghana great – Lloyd Amoah

Ghana’s Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia

By
Godwin A. Allotey & Pearl Akanya Ofori

The
Head of the Legon Centre for Asian Studies, Dr. Lloyd Amoah, has downplayed
suspicions around China’s commitment to invest about $21 billion dollars into
Ghana’s economy.

Following
the Vice President Dr Mahamadu Bawumia’s visit, a number of Memoranda of
Understanding were signed to invest 
$15 billion dollars while an
additional $4 billion dollars is expected to be signed soon.
But
critics say the offer is too good to be true, given the country’s previous
experience with the 
$3 billion dollar Chinese
loan which was never fully disbursed.

But
speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show on Tuesday, Dr. Lloyd Amoah
advised Ghana to rather take advantage of the help China is offering to grow
the economy.

“These
are guys who are becoming a world power, they have the resources, but they want
to gain from those resources. So you have to do your homework well….It’s a
mixture of how the policy infrastructure at the highest level in Ghana and also
in terms of bureaucracy how they are fed into the whole processes. So if you don’t
do your homework well and you are not able to take advantage of an opportunity
and then you say we should be skeptical, I don’t get your reasoning, it’s a
very dubious one.”

He
explained that most developed countries capitalized on other countries to be
great.

“All
the major countries in the world—Japan took advantage of America when America
was powerful. China took advantage of Japan even though Japan is its arch-rival
and rode to greatness. Korea took advantage of America,” he added.

Meanwhile,
the Executive Director of the Integrated Social Development Centre, Dr. Steve
Manteaw, who also spoke on the Citi Breakfast Show, said he is “cautiously
skeptical” about the help China is offering.

“Whether
or not we will be able to access what has been said will be dependent on our
ability to meet the conditions or the triggers for the release of these funds…
we may need to have the full benefit of what the conditions are to be able to
assess,” he added.

Parliament
cannot make changes to Legislative Instruments – Opare-Ansah

Rt. Hon Speaker of the Ghanaian Parliament, Mike Ocquaye

Parliament
cannot make changes to Legislative Instruments (LIs) brought before it by the
Executive arm of government, Mr Frederick Opare-Ansah, the Member of Parliament
(MP) for Suhum has said.

He
said the challenge with LIs was that Parliament actually had very little
control over them.

He
said when a LI was laid before the House, it required two-third majority of all
MPs to vote to annul a particular LI, otherwise it would automatically come
into being.

Mr
Opare-Ansah made these remarks in his presentation at the 2017 annual World
Public Services Day celebration in Accra.

In
2003, the United Nations dedicated June 23 for the commemoration of the annual
World Public Services Day.

This
year the commemoration focused on the move towards amplifying tax justice
campaigns through the unavoidable linkages of socio- economic contract tax
payers and government.

The
event was organised by the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII) in partnership with
the Tax Justice Coalition and the Public Service International.

Some
Acts of Parliament delegate to the executive arm of government the power to
make detailed rules and regulations that supplement the parent Act and have the
same legal force.

Such
rules and regulations are called LIs, Constitutional Instruments (CIs) and
Executive Instruments (EIs).

These
instruments are not passed directly by Parliament, but are placed by the
Executive arm of government before the House for a stipulated period of 21
days, after which they mature.

Mr
Opare-Ansah said: “There is a lot of ‘mischief’ that can be created by the
use of LIs, unless you really have a very compelling reasons why a particular
Legislative Instrument or Constitutional Instrument or Executive Instrument
should not come into being, it will be very difficult to stop it.

“Remember
that no one side of the House has TWO-thirds majority. And so if it is the
policy of government to have something done, first of all the minority with
their rare numbers can’t begin to oppose it and then the majority also do not
have the two-thirds majority. Anytime we have LIs and CIs coming before the
House, it is a very difficult situation.”

Mr
Opare-Ansah, who is also a Member of the African Parliamentarians Network on
Illicit Financial Flows and Tax (APNIFFT), said the Network had the desire and
commitment to spearhead the fight against illicit financial flows in Africa.

He
said Association’s main aim was to provide a platform for African legislators
to undertake sustained advocacy – related dialogue and debate in a simplified
manner on IFFs, tax governance and domestic resource mobilisation.

Mrs
Linda Ofori-Kwafo, the Executive Director of the GII, said the commemoration of
the World Public Services Day was to deepen workers and the public’s
understanding of tax justice and its direct connection with efficient delivery
of public services.

She
said there was a global push for multi-national companies to pay their fair
share of tax to fund quality public services and sustainable economic
development.

GNA

CODEO
wants end to political party vigilantism

Delta Forces of the NPP

The
Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO), a civil society organization
in Ghana has appealed to the media to support advocacy to end the menace of
political party vigilantism which was threatening the democratic governance of
the country.

The
Coalition appealed to the Ghana media to support the fight against the menace
of political party vigilantism on the public agenda and make it the centre of
public discussions on the media front.

This
was contained in a press briefing organized by the Coalition and addressed
jointly by Messrs John Larvie and Nicholaus Akyire, both members of the CODEO
Advisory Board after the first regional roundtable discussion on the menace of
political party vigilantism in the Ghanaian politics at Koforidua.

The
participants at the roundtable discussion included the media, representatives
of the security services, civil society organizations, the Commission on Human
Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), National Commission on Civic
Educatiojn(NCCE) and representatives of the Political parties in the country.

CODEO
urged all stakeholders including the political parties, security services and
the public to work together to ensure the end of political party vigilantism in
the country.

During
the roundtable discussions, the participants blamed the inability of the
security services in the country especially the police to provide equal and
adequate security for the political parties and politicians during the
electioneering process, which forced the political parties in opposition to
raise their own security structures for their protection.

The
participants called for constitutional reforms to eliminate the winner takes
all syndrome from the politics of the country and review the appointment of the
leadership of the security services to guarantee their tenure of office.

The
participants also called for a collective efforts to provide jobs for the youth
to help reduce the high unemployed young men and women who were easily
recruited to serve in the various political vigilante groups in the country.

Occupied
Western Sahara to pursue resource thieves

Policy
Statement of the government of the Saharawi Republic on the risk and liability
of ships carrying natural resources from occupied Western Sahara.

The
government of the Saharawi Republic (the SADR) avails itself of the opportunity
to identify the material risks and express its policy in the matter of the
ocean carriage of natural resources from occupied Western Sahara.

For
more than four decades, the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara has been
partly occupied under armed force with its inhabitants, the Saharawi people,
denied the opportunity to exercise their right of self-determination. This period
has seen the continuing large-scale plunder of natural resources including
phosphate mineral rock, the Canary Current Large Marine Ecosystem fishery, and
sand aggregates. The illegal sale and export of such resources is contrary to
established principles of international law which guarantee the Saharawi people
permanent sovereignty over their natural resources. This sale and export is a
violation of international humanitarian law defined in the Fourth Geneva
Convention of 1949 and the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal
Court. The purchasing of such resources can bring no certainty of right or
enforceable title to them. The carriage by sea of these resources aids and
abets the war crime of pillage as defined in the Convention and the Statute.

In
recent years, the SADR government has informed ship owners, charterers and
managing enterprises that an involvement with Western Sahara’s exported natural
resources presents reputational and legal risks. The purpose of this policy
statement is two-fold. First, such risks are restated. Second, the SADR
government declares that it will more actively pursue ships, ship owners, and
ship charterers by legal measures in liability for the carriage of Western
Sahara’s resources.

The
reputational risk for ship owners and charterers is that which results from
knowingly participating in the export of resources from a territory widely
referred to as Africa’s last colony. This entails possible rejection of trade
by parties interested in an end to the occupation of Western Sahara, including
commercial enterprise and governments throughout Africa and elsewhere.

The
legal risk to ship owners and charterers is manifold. It includes possible
civil legal action to detain (or interdict) and therefore recover cargos of
Saharan resources on a worldwide basis. Moreover, claims for damages, including
reparations, as well as equitable remedies are now intended to be pursued –
including the individual ships involved (as proceedings in rem) where
conveniently found – on a continuing basis into the future. An example of such
risk is detailed in the decision of South Africa’s High Court Saharawi Arab
Democratic Republic and Another v Owner and Charterers of the MV ‘NM Cherry
Blossom’ and Others [2017] ZAECPEHC 31 (15 June 2017), available 
online.

A
first priority of the SADR government in civil legal proceedings is,
accordingly, against those ships, their owners and charterers where a single
ship has routinely carried cargos from Western Sahara or where a charterer has
provided multiple ships on time or voyage fixtures in carriage of resources
from the territory. In addition, ships which carry the valuable commodity of
phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara will be pursued on a standing basis
for legal action.

The
SADR government wishes to caution ship owners and charterers to insulate
themselves and their ships from such prospective liability and
compensation-attachment proceedings. Voyage charterers and managing enterprises
may not always candidly disclose such risks. Therefore, the SADR government
suggests contracts between ship owners and charterers prohibit the carriage of
resources or any commodity from Western Sahara. A suitable charter party term
would provide that:

“Charterers
are not permitted to trade this vessel to El Aauin (also known as Laayoune) and
Dakhla in Western Sahara.”

The
SADR government notes that the act of illegally exporting and trading in
resources from the occupied area of Western Sahara is presently being defined
as an offence in national law.

Questions
about this policy statement from industry and other stakeholders are invited.

For
additional information and media contact:

Mr.
Kamal Fadel

Saharawi
Republic representative for Australia and New Zealand

Senior
Executive, SADR Petroleum and Mining Authority

T:
+ 61 2 92 65 82 58

Cuba will
not make concessions essential to its sovereignty and
independence,
nor will it negotiate its principles or accept conditions

Foreign Minister Bruno
Rodríguez during the press conference in Austria on President Donald Trump’s
announcements. Photo: Cubaminrex

MODERATOR.- Welcome to this press conference which has
been called by the Minister of Foreign Relations of the Republic of Cuba, the honorable
Bruno Rodríguez Parilla. The Minister will presently make a statement in
Spanish and English languages; and then take a few questions.

We would like to
inform all those present that interpretation services in English are available
at this conference. That said, Minister, over to you. 


Bruno Rodríguez
.- Thank you very
much.

I wish to express my
condolences to the people and government of Portugal for the disaster which has
cost dozens of human lives; as well as to the government and people of the
United Kingdom following recent events in London.

I convey our most
heartfelt condolences to the people and government of Colombia regarding the
terrorist attack which has led to several deaths.

Last June 16, the
President of the United States Donald Trump announced in Miami the policy his
government has decided to implement with regard to Cuba.

The Cuban government,
meanwhile, issued an official statement. Cuban civil society organizations have
also made declarations.

Among others, the
President of the United States approved the following measures: the prohibition
of economic, commercial and financial relations between U.S. companies and
Cuban entities linked to the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the
Ministry of the Interior; the prohibition of individual travel by U.S. citizens
under the category of “people-to-people” exchanges, and greater monitoring of
all travelers; as well as a review of all the programs directed against Cuba’s
constitutional order, to supposedly ensure their effectiveness.

Also repealed was the
Presidential Directive issued by President Barack Obama in October 2016, which
despite being profoundly interventionist, and aimed at changing the
constitutional order of the Republic of Cuba, did however recognize our
country’s independence, sovereignty, and self-determination; Cuba’s
revolutionary government as a legitimate and equal interlocutor, and also
proposed a new civilized relationship intended to benefit both peoples.

The Directive, which
has now been vacated, also recognized the blockade as a failed policy, which
has been unsuccessful, failed to achieve its objectives, and should be
eliminated.

All of these measures
were announced in a Theater named after Manuel Artime, civilian leader of the
mercenary brigade that invaded our country at Playa Girón or the Bay of Pigs.
It was a grotesque Cold War-era spectacle, made before a small audience,
composed of old henchmen and thieves of the Batista dictatorship, mercenaries from
the Playa Girón brigade, terrorists, demagogues and “lackeys.”

President Trump
greeted several of these individuals by name, and was surrounded or accompanied
by others at the time of the signing. These included a terrorist arrested in
1995 in California, with an arsenal of weapons to be used to commit violent
actions, and who was implicated in an assassination attempt on President Fidel
Castro Ruz in 1997. Another was part of a 1974 armed infiltration in Cuba; a
third was the author of terrorist actions and pirate attacks at sea on Cuban
fishing boats, between 1972 and 1975.

Also present was the
spouse of a sergeant who committed acts of torture during the Batista
dictatorship, and one of those responsible for financing the planting of bombs
at tourist locations in Cuba which exploded in 1997, as revealed by infamous
terrorist Posada Carriles in an interview with the New York Times.
As we know, Posada Carriles was the author of the mid-flight bombing of a
Cubana de Aviación civilian aircraft in 1976, the first terrorist act against
an aircraft in flight.

Many of these
individuals worked for the CIA at some point.

I strongly protest the
United States government given such derision, and implore it to confirm or deny
if the terrorists I have mentioned were beside President Trump or not. This is
an affront to the Cuban people, to the people of the world, and to the victims
of international terrorism across the globe.

When, during this
show, the President of the United States alluded to the father of the out-of-tune
violinist who played the U.S. national anthem, he failed to state that Captain
Bonifacio Haza, mentioned on several occasions by the President of the United
States, was directly responsible for the murders of Carlos Díaz and Orlando
Carvajal toward the end of the Batista dictatorship, and personally
participated in the murder of well-known revolutionary fighter Frank País, as
well as his comrade Raúl Pujol, and later, Frank País’ younger brother,
who was only 19 years of age at the time.

This is an outrage our
people will never forget.

The packed audience
was completed by several foreign agents who are paid by U.S. government
agencies in Cuba. These are the new mercenaries.

It was outrageous to
see this annexationnist and Plattist audience respond to every phrase against
Cuba, chanting “USA, USA.”

President Trump’s
policy without a doubt marks a step back in bilateral relations, as has been
recognized by countless voices within and outside of the United States, the
majority of which out rightly reject the announced changes.

I anticipate that said
measures will affect relations between the government of the United States and
those of Latin America and the Caribbean, and will severely damage the
credibility of its foreign policy.

These frankly unpopular
measures ignore overwhelming support for the lifting of the blockade and the
normalization of relations with Cuba by members of the U.S. Congress, many of
whom are Republicans; the country’s business sector; various civil society
organizations; the Cuban émigré community; the press; social networks; and
public opinion in general.

President Trump – once
again ill-advised – who lost the vote of Cubans in the counties with the
highest concentration of Cuban residents during the Presidential elections in
Florida; who lost the Cuban vote in Florida, is making decisions which only
benefit the petty interests of an aging, extremist minority of Cuban origin and
a handful of politicians.

Any measured analysis
leads one to anticipate that, as in the past, the announced measures will not
meet the proclaimed objectives, but rather the opposite: they will restrict the
freedoms of U.S. citizens, cost taxpayers more money, reduce the opportunities
of companies and business people against their competition, lose income and
jobs.

It is necessary to
wait until the government of the United States reveals the regulations that
will implement these measures before expressing an opinion on their scope and
depth.

These measures also
ignore the overwhelming majority view of the Cuban people, who wish to have a
better relationship with the people of the U.S. They will cause human harm and
deprivation; they will affect Cuban families. They will bring economic damage not
only to state-owned enterprises in Cuba, but also to cooperatives, and will
especially harm self-employed or private workers. They will also harm and
increase discrimination against Cuban émigrés settled in the United States.

It seems childish to
predict that, with this policy, they will be able to separate the people from
the government, or the citizens from our glorious Revolutionary Armed Forces
and Ministry of the Interior, who are the uniformed people. On the contrary, these
measures reinforce our patriotism, our dignity, our determination to defend
national independence by all means, in the spirit of José Martí, Antonio Maceo
and Fidel Castro Ruz.

Cuba vigorously
rejects the new measures that strengthen the blockade, which we will denounce
in the next United Nations General Assembly, because it is unjust, inhumane,
genocidal, extraterritorial, and in violation of International Law and the
sovereignty of all states.

I firmly reject the
political manipulation and double standards in addressing the issue of human
rights by President Trump. The United States government has no moral authority,
it cannot give lectures on human rights or on democracy. Cuba has much to show
and say on this matter.

The new measures are
not at all democratic. According to recent U.S. surveys, 73% of U.S. citizens,
63% of Cuban residents, and 62% of Republicans support the lifting of the
blockade – curious that: 62% of Republicans. The normalization of bilateral
ties is favored by 75%, three quarters, of U.S. citizens; 69% of Cuban
residents, and 62% of Republicans.

Among Cubans in the
United States, the younger they are, the more support there is for the lifting
of the blockade and normalization.

However, the new
measures reinforce the ban on U.S. citizens traveling as tourists to Cuba, and
restrict their civil liberties; they limit the freedom of U.S. citizens to
travel.

As regards human
rights, in the United States there are numerous and systematic murders,
brutality, and abuses by police, particularly against Afro-Americans. The
limits on the right to healthcare, pay inequality for women, the lack of
educational access, the almost absent unionization, the repression against
immigrants and refugees, the marginalization of minorities and the increasing
discrimination against Islamic culture and religion are well known.

The war crimes and the
killing of civilians in U.S. military attacks and interventions are frequent.
The imprisonment, without trial, and the massive and systematic use of torture
in the Guantánamo Naval Base are brutal.

I reiterate Cuba’s
willingness to continue the respectful dialogue and cooperation in areas of
mutual interest and to negotiate pending bilateral issues with the United
States, on the basis of equality and absolute respect for our independence and
sovereignty.

As demonstrated by the
advances achieved in the last two years, Cuba and the United States can
cooperate and coexist in a civilized manner, respecting the profound
differences between our governments and promoting all that benefits both
countries and peoples.

We will continue our
efforts together with people of good will in the United States, who are the
vast majority. But I advise you: Cuba will not make concessions essential to
its sovereignty and independence, will not negotiate its principles or accept
conditions, as it has never done, never, throughout the history of the
Revolution. As the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba establishes, we will
never negotiate under pressure or threats.

We will act invoking
the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace, signed
by heads of state and government of the region in Havana in January 2014, which
recognizes the inalienable right of heads of state to decide their political,
economic, social and cultural system; rejects foreign intervention and
interference in internal affairs, and opposes and condemns the threat and use
of force.

It will not be a
Presidential Directive of the United States that will thwart the sovereign
course of Cuba, as they have been unable to do in more than 50 yeas of
aggression, state terrorism, blockade, media war, and subversion. We have been
through it all, our people has already been through it all, and have run the
risk. What could they threaten us with today that they haven’t already, and
failed?

In Cuba, by the way,
no one was on tenterhooks waiting for this imperialist announcement. Our people
worked as normal, foreign policy functioned, we demonstrated respect for Europe
on this visit. In fact, the Cuban people, closely linked to their Communist
Party, recently debated and amended the draft Conceptualization of the Cuban
Economic and Social Model of Socialist Development and the National Development
Plan through 2030, and the upcoming People’s Power general elections were
called.

The changes that may
be necessary in Cuba will be independently decided by the Cuban people: only by
the Cuban people, as they have always done. We will not ask anyone else for
their opinion or permission.

Many thanks.

Moderator.- The Minister will take some questions.
Please, we remind you to identify yourselves, use the microphones that we have
placed at both sides of the room. We open the session.

George Jahn (AP).- I have a question related to the ban on
U.S. citizens from engaging in relations with the Army. Is Cuba willing to
impose new taxes on those wishing to do business in Cuba, and will it agree to
return Assata Shakur to the U.S. as requested?

Bruno Rodríguez.- The measures announced, as I have said,
will fundamentally harm U.S. citizens and U.S. companies. The Cuban government
will consider the measures to be taken in a timely manner. It will be necessary
to wait for the United States government to issue the relevant regulations to
analyze the scope of these measures.

Contrary to the
objectives invoked, the measures are not only a setback in bilateral relations,
but will damage the sectors with which U.S. businesspeople prefer to deal with
in our country.

Regarding the issue of
the so-called “U.S. fugitives in Cuba,” I can reaffirm that, under our national
law and international law and the Latin American tradition, Cuba has granted
political asylum or refuge to U.S. civil rights fighters. Of course these
people will not be returned to the United States, which lacks the legal,
political, and moral foundation to demand this.

Secondly, U.S.
citizens who committed crimes in Cuba, such as the hijacking of aircraft, were
sentenced by Cuban courts and served long prison terms in Cuba. By unilateral
decision, and in an act of goodwill, the Cuban government in recent years has
returned to the United States 12 U.S. citizens who were fugitives from the U.S.
justice system.

Vincent Montagud (teleSUR).- I wanted to ask you,
Minister, it’s been a long time, they are two different historical moments, but
why do you think that President Trump is now returning to this clearly Cold War
rhetoric? Secondly, if I may, paradoxically, President Trump himself has said
that he could study improvements in relations if concrete progress is made –
and I quote – in certain domestic matters. The question is: would the
government of Cuba be willing to negotiate a new treaty with the Trump
administration?

Thank you very much.

Bruno Rodríguez.- One would have to ask President Trump what
his real motives are for having performed these latest acts. I do not know if
he could say why in public. I do not know if the President of the United States
has been badly advised and whether someone has “sold” him the idea that he won
the Florida vote with the Cuban vote or due to the Cuban vote. If he has been
told that, he has been deceived. The figures exist related to the result of the
elections in the five counties with the highest concentrations of Cuban voters
in Florida, and in all of these President Trump lost the majority vote, that
is, he lost the elections in the counties with citizens of Cuban origin. There
is survey data and the election results themselves. It can be categorically
stated that President Trump did not win the Cuban vote, and he did not win
Florida because of the Cuban vote, but due to other electoral sectors.

As I have said, Cuba
is ready for dialogue, cooperation, and the negotiation of pending bilateral
issues, just as it will refuse to negotiate any issue affecting the
sovereignty, independence, and self-determination of the Cuban people.

Just as the Cuban
government will not demand of the U.S. government, as a condition for
negotiation, that it change elements of its domestic policy that are very
unpopular, and that we do not like at all, or that it cease the international
wars in which it is involved, or that it have a better standard of protection
for the exercise of human rights in its own country, or that it stop violating
human rights across the world.

We hope that the U.S.
government does not make the mistake of expecting that Cuba make internal
changes to favor agreements or negotiations.

President Trump
consistently said throughout the election campaign that he supported the change
of policy toward Cuba; but that he would seek “a better arrangement,” a better
deal with our country. A better deal would mean lifting the blockade, returning
the territory of the Guantánamo Naval Base, accepting the concept of mutual
compensation that would greatly benefit certified U.S. property owners, due to
the nationalizations of the 1960s.

On the other hand, it
is false to affirm that President Barack Obama made concessions to Cuba. He
maintained the fundamental elements of the blockade of Cuba, and attempted to
advance U.S. interests, including the subversion of the constitutional order of
our country. President Trump should recognize, or should know that a favorable
change, the continuity of the normalization process, the lifting of the
blockade, are in the national interest of the United States, in the interest of
U.S. voters, in the interest of those who pay taxes in the United States, who
sustain the government, and therefore he would not be doing Cuba any favor, but
rather attending to the United States’ own interests and international law.

To that extent, yes,
there is a willingness to negotiate with the U.S. government, to attempt to
resolve bilateral issues that affect both countries, but on the basis of
absolute, sovereign equality and full respect for our sovereignty and
independence.

Luisa María González
García
 (Prensa
Latina).- Good afternoon, Minister, if you would allow me, two questions:

The first, as you have
said in your speech, numerous surveys show the growing desire of U.S. society
to advance in rapprochement with Cuba. Given this context, do you believe that
the measures announced by Trump are sustainable over time?

The second concerns
Cuba’s position. Cuba has reiterated its willingness – you just reaffirmed this
– to dialogue on the basis of mutual respect and equality of conditions. Why
maintain this position when the interlocutor is not disposed to talks on these
terms?

Thank you very much.

Bruno Rodríguez.- The measures which President Trump just
announced, the scope of which must be seen in the regulations, are absolutely
unsustainable. First, because there is a historical tendency that defines the
era in which we live. The blockade is a piece of the Cold War; it is criminal,
genocidal, according to the Geneva Convention on Genocide. In the second place,
it is absolutely unjust and arbitrary. It is a crude, systematic violation,
flagrant and systematic, of the human rights of all Cubans, hurting Cuban
families, causing damage and deprivation.

On the other hand, the
blockade infringes on the interests of U.S. citizens, of its companies, of its
business people, and also constitutes a violation of the civil liberties and
political rights of U.S. citizens who are prohibited from traveling to Cuba,
exclusively Cuba.

Thus there is a
historic tendency. Will it be during the Trump administration, or during a
subsequent one? But there is no doubt that history, the era, will oblige the
United States government to lift the blockade and normalize relations with
Cuba. And we have all the patience, the endurance, and the will to wait for
that moment to arrive, and above all, to work actively to make it happen, in
the company of the vast majority of the U.S. people, of Cuban émigrés, and the
international community – on the basis of the sovereign decision and very
broad, majority support of our people.

It is not known if
this administration will be an acceptable interlocutor or not. That will be a
decision which must be made by the U.S. government, which will act to the
country’s benefit or to its detriment, however it decides, but Cuba is ready to
dialogue, to cooperate, to negotiate on the basis of absolute equality and
respect.

Brinley Bruton (NBC).- Thank you very much, Mr.
Minister. Would you do me the favor of answering in English. I am going to ask
the question in English, too, thank you.

This past week, NBC
broadcast an exclusive report on the extensive cooperation between Cuba and the
United States which allowed the Department of Homeland Security in the U.S. to
combat illegal credit card use. Could this change as a result of the decisions
made by President Trump?

Bruno Rodríguez.- I don’t have any new information that the
decisions of the U.S. government include the repudiation of the dozens of
agreements signed over the last two years between the two governments. Nor have
I heard of any measure directed toward impeding bilateral cooperation, in
particular in the area of national security and law enforcement. It would do no
good; it would seriously damage the very interests of the United States and of
its citizens, if the U.S. government prevented or disassociated itself from
cooperation with Cuba, which is a neighboring country and contributes to
stability in the region, to the solution of regional and hemispheric problems,
which has been a victim of, and actively fights, international terrorism, as
well as drug trafficking; trafficking in persons; cyber-crime; against the use
of digital media from one country to surreptitiously attack another; against
crimes of fraud, money laundering, in which, necessarily, the interests of the
continent’s countries coincide.

Thus I can reaffirm
that Cuba will attend to, honor, the agreements signed, and I reiterate our
willingness to negotiate and sign new cooperation agreements in other areas.
Because our way of thinking is to respect, in a civilized manner, the great
differences which exist between our governments, but to advance in all that can
benefit the two peoples, in our national interest and that of the Cuban people.

Moderator.- Minister, we have received a question from
Havana. It’s the newspaper Juventud Rebelde, which has sent you an
e-mail. If you would allow me, I’ll read it: “Minister, the President of
the United States would like to present itself as the defender of the Cuban
people and alleges that the measures just adopted, as part of its policy toward
Cuba, will not affect the Cuban people, but rather only state enterprises
linked to the Revolutionary Armed Forces or the Ministry of the Interior.
Nevertheless,” Juventud Rebelde asks, “Does the tightening of the
blockade perhaps not affect the economic and social life of the country in
general? For example, won’t more limitations on travel to Cuba from the U.S.
affect all economic management modalities in Cuba, including the self-employed
sector?

Bruno Rodríguez.- Well, they have a great sense of humor. It is
clear that the measures being implemented by the U.S. government will harm the
Cuban people, and especially harm sectors with which the U.S. government has
expressed the most interest in building relations. In Cuba, it would be
impossible to hurt the state sector of the economy without seriously hurting
the cooperative sector, the self-employed, or small private businesses, in
particular in the areas that some of these measures address, like the ban on
individual travel by U.S. citizens under “people-to-people” licenses.

One would think that
the U.S. government would pay greater attention to the interests of its
citizens, than those of Cubans, as has always occurred in the past, but these
measures, no doubt, prejudice U.S. interests.

The paradox is strange,
because the U.S. President has said that his priority is the U.S. citizenry,
the creation of jobs, seeking opportunities for U.S. companies and businesses,
making them more competitive.

With these measures,
he is doing exactly the opposite. What is his motivation? Thinking perhaps of
the votes of some Cubans in the United States, of an aging, illegitimate
minority? Does he want to win some indispensable votes in the Senate? That
would be a good question to ask the President of the United States.

But there is no doubt
that these measures contradict the very platform which the President proposed
to voters, and presumably the reason he won the Electoral College vote, because
we must remember that President Trump did not win the popular vote, he won the
election with fewer votes than his opponent. That’s the way democracy works in
the United States.

Boris Kuznetsov (Russia Today).- Good
afternoon, Mr. Minister.

My question is: Taking
a step backward in the normalization of relations with Cuba, Donald Trump has
in fact resuscitated the old political rhetoric of the Cold War. In this sense,
other countries must react in some way to respond to this aggressive policy of
Donald Trump. Russia, for example, yes, has declared that all of this leads to
a new Cold War, this counterproductive policy toward Cuba.

Bruno Rodríguez.- President Trump has presented himself as a
renovator, he won the U.S. elections offering a change to the U.S. people. What
he has done with Cuba is not innovate, nothing creative, what he has done is
return to the policies of 10 other U.S. administrations, that is, moreover, to
a policy that has failed, over time, to bring the U.S. closer to the objectives
it has proposed. A well known Republican Senator said: Well, 50 years of a
policy that doesn’t get results is reason enough to change it. And this is what
President Obama did.

The famous adage that
trying, trying, and trying, again and again, to do the same thing, expecting to
get different results, makes no sense at all, Einstein said.

Thus there is no doubt
that these policies resurrected ice floes from the Cold War.

One could ask if this
is only in policy toward Cuba. I see alarming signs in the international
situation, growing threats to peace and international security, growing instability,
the proliferation of conflicts, an increase in nuclear arsenals and military
spending.

I also see profound
ignorance of the way in which the causes of these problems must be addressed,
including international terrorism, the only solution to which lies in
international cooperation, not war. In the same way, these policies related to
the egotistical, brutal restriction of trade, and the rejection of the Paris
Accords on climate change, which threatens the existence of the human race,
indicate that the planet is, in fact, approaching a tempestuous situation.

His Holiness Pope
Francis has said, with good reason, that the world is already in a Cold War by
stages. There is, no doubt, reason to be worried, and above all to act, to
increase international cooperation, mobilize the world’s conscience for the
survival of the human race, and to change an international order that is
incompatible with this survival, which is totally irrational, unsustainable,
and seriously threatens world peace.

Thank you very much.

Moderator.- Thank you very much for attending this
press conference.

Iran: “State Sponsor of Terror” or Major Victim?

By Andrew Korybko

The
Western Establishment would have the rest of the world believe that Iran is the
“largest state sponsor of terrorism”, though in reality it’s been a major
victim of terrorism for decades.

Iran has
just been hit by multiple terrorist attacks in its national
parliament and the revered Ayatollah Khomeini mausoleum, completely shattering
the Western-promoted myth that the Islamic Republic is the “largest state
sponsor of terrorism”. While cynics will inevitably suggest this might be
a stereotypical case of “blowback”, the truth couldn’t be more different.

The only
so-called “terrorist group” that Tehran directly supports nowadays is
Hezbollah, which is only designated with such a false appellation because
of its resistance to Israel. Iranian backing of the Houthi
national liberation movement in Yemen is limited only to political,
informational, and moral support, and there has yet to be presented any
incontrovertible evidence other than hearsay that Tehran is arming the rebels,
though Saudi Arabia says that they are and also calls the group “terrorists”
simply because they ousted Riyadh’s political proxy in the country.

It’s
unimaginable that either Hezbollah or the Houthis would dare stage such a
horrendous terrorist attack against their partner, hence why the
“blowback” argument falls flat on its face if anyone takes the time
to think about it.

This
logically brings one around to wondering which other forces could have
been behind the coordinated strikes, and the one on everybody’s mind
is Daesh, which threatened the Islamic Republic during last year’s Ramadan
in what Iran 
described as “one
of the biggest plots” ever.

If it
was indeed Daesh which launched the latest attacks in Tehran, then it
would mean that the ultra-sectarian group succeeded in carrying
out its first-ever operation on Iranian soil against the
majority-Shiite nation whose people it has officially condemned to death
for being “apostates”.

It would
also indicate that the group is dedicated to seeking revenge
against Iran for its decisive support in helping the Syrian Arab
Army cripple the terrorists in their own self-declared “caliphate”.

Considering
that Iran regularly accuses Saudi Arabia of backing Daesh, and pairing
this accusation with Saudi Defense Minister Mohammed Bin Salman’s 
threat last month
to take the regional proxy war to Iranian soil, it’s possible that
Tehran could also interpret the latest events as Riyadh’s informal
declaration of 
Hybrid Waragainst the
Islamic Republic, which in that instance could contribute to an even
more tense situation in the region coming on the heels of the
recently revived 
Qatari-Saudi Cold
War
.
In any case, and regardless of which group carried out the terrorist
attacks and whoever their foreign backers may or may not have been, it wouldn’t
be the first time that Iran has fallen victim to terrorism.
Just
last year Iran announced that the “Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran”
(KDPI) carried out attacks against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard
Corps along the western borderland region with Iraqi Kurdistan, and
the country’s media pulled no punches in 
describing the perpetrators
as terrorists.
This
might sound strange to Western ears accustomed to hearing nothing
but praise for Kurdish militant groups in the Mideast given the
media-driven myth surrounding their anti-Daesh operations, but in reality
the situation is much more complex. Individuals ordinarily sympathetic
to these ethnic forces in general might be surprised to learn
that the KDPI 
condemned Iran last year
as the “Shiite ISIS”, which explains why Tehran takes such a strict
attitude towards the group in designating it as the terrorists
that they truly are.

Moving
back along the timeline, most people shouldn’t have forgotten
about the spate of assassinations against Iranian scientists
during the height of the country’s nuclear energy standoff
with the West.

Tehran
blamed the US and Israel for these killings, and The Jerusalem Post 
published an article
in August 2015 titled “Israel Behind Assassinations Of Iran Nuclear
Scientists, Ya’alon Hints”, suggesting that the then-Israeli Defense Minister
slyly let the cat out of the bag in an interview that he had just
given during that time to Germany’s Der Spiegel. Tel Aviv never
formally took responsibility for killing civilians in Iran, though it
has consistently condemned the country’s nuclear energy program and its Mossad
intelligence agency is widely regarded as having both the capabilities and
motive for doing so.

Speaking
of Western support for terrorism against Iran, Tehran claimed
on multiple occasions that the “People’s Mojahedin Organization
of Iran” (known as Mojahedin-e Khalq and commonly reported on by
its acronym MEK) is being backed by the US and its allies. The
organization was patronized by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq during the 1980s
when it carried out a spate of attacks against the Islamic
Republic, and had previously been designated a terrorist group by the US
until 2012 for its killing of six Americans in the 1970s.

Iran
believes that the US took the MEK off of the State Department’s list
of terrorist organizations because it’s planning to use it as a
Hybrid War vanguard against the Islamic Republic in the future, and
interestingly enough, former Saudi spy chief Prince Turki al-Faisal 
addressed the group’s
large-scale public gathering in Paris last year where he implored them
to seek regime change against Iran.

Finally,
when speaking about the MEK and its reference to Saddam Hussein,
there’s no avoiding the fact that the Iran-Iraq War (or First Gulf War) was an
act of brutal state terrorism by Baghdad against the fledgling
Islamic Republic launched in the tumultuous year following its 1979
Revolution.

Hundreds
of thousands of Iranians lost their lives in what amounts
to their version of the Soviet Union’s Great Patriotic War, though
they ultimately succeeded in preventing their country’s disintegration
at the hands of its foreign enemies.

Iran has
therefore suffered from terrorism much more than most of the
world recognizes, which makes the West’s accusations that the country is the
world’s “largest supporter of terrorism” absolutely ridiculous
to even countenance.

The
latest attacks in the country’s parliament and Ayatollah Khomeini
mausoleum are a testimony to this fact, and should give cause to all
serious Great Powers to unite behind Iran in its War
on Terror if they truly aspire to see this global scourge eliminated
once and for all.

Prince Harry says
nobody wants to be king

Prince Harry

Prince
Harry says nobody in the royal household wants to be the next king or queen,
but will take on the burden out of public duty. Republicans replied that
Britain “does not need [the royals],” and called on them to renounce their
titles.

“We
are involved in modernizing the British monarchy. We are not doing this for
ourselves but for the greater good of the people,” Harry told Newsweek.

“Is
there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don’t think
so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time.”

However,
campaigners from Republic, which calls for an elected head of state and the
abolition of the constitutional monarchy, responded to the prince’s comments.
The group said the royals should step aside as Britain would manage perfectly
well without them.

“If
this is true, that no royal really wants to be king, then I have some sympathy.
But the honest truth is Harry can walk away whenever he likes,” Graham
Smith, the group’s CEO, said in a press release on Thursday.

“It’s
going to be hard for the royals to step back and see this objectively, but we
don’t need them to carry on. 

“If
they are reluctant royals then they should walk away – Britain will be fine
without them.”

Whatever
their feelings about public duty, Smith accused the Royal Family of readily
enjoying the “perks” of their position.

“The
country can easily find others to take on the role of head of state,”he said.

According
to the campaign group, kings and queens do not have democratic legitimacy, and
can therefore never act independently of government, meaning ministers are free
to do what they want knowing they will not face further scrutiny by a
higher-ranking official.

“What
Britain needs now more than ever is an effective, accountable head of state,
one that’s independent of the prime minister,” said Smith.

“There’s
a real job to do and it’s not one the royals are willing to do or capable of
doing.”

“The
monarchy isn’t fit for purpose in the 21st century – it isn’t good for
Britain. 

“It
seems it isn’t good for the Windsor family either.”



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