Weekly News Review

26th April, 2003

Opposition to the Euro rises to 68 percent of British electorate

Two new polls this week showed the difficulty the British Prime Minister will have in persuading the public to back the Euro.

An ICM poll for the anti-Euro "no campaign" showed that the public would vote 68-23 against joining. Meanwhile, a separate poll for the T&G Union showed even stronger opposition to early Euro entry with 80% saying Britain should not join before the next general election. T&G General Secretary Bill Morris said, “The Government set its priorities in the Budget: public services are what we want not the Euro… The five tests will assess whether the British economy is ready for entry, but the British public have already made their assessment - they will not be bounced. Business needs the certainty for investment decisions. The Government should end the uncertainty for the British economy by ruling out a referendum during this parliament.”

Thanks to the "No" campaign for this report.

Cypriot Left welcomes move to open border

Cypriot left party AKEL has welcomed the decision by Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash to open the border dividing Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, although under strict limitations.  A spokesperson for the party said that  AKEL had made great efforts to achieve a solution and saw this as the fruits of that campaign. On Wednesday, many Cypriots were able to meet up with old friends and neighbours from across the ethnic divide, as well as to visit their former homes, for the first time since the war almost thirty years ago, when Turkey invaded the island in response to threats to unify it with Greece.

"We hope that Denktash’s move will not prove a tactical one, of a temporary character and aiming at serving expediencies," he added.

"AKEL considers that the Government’s support measures that are going to serve a broad spectrum of needs of our Turkish Cypriot compatriots, should be announced the soonest possible.

"AKEL welcomes the Government’s readiness to undertake all the advisable measures that will facilitate the movement of our Turkish Cypriot compatriots in the free areas.  At the same time it calls on Rauf Denktash to withdraw the control measures which he has announced, i.e. the presentation of passports (from Greek Cypriots) and the granting of entrance permits, in order to enable Greek Cypriots to go to their ancestral homes.

"AKEL considers that with this mass meeting up of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots a crack has been made to the dividing wall.  We, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, have to intensify our efforts in order to fully demolish the dividing wall and achieve a just, functional and viable solution that will reunify our people and country.

A Cuban Diplomat defends his government

The letter below was originally published in the Boston Globe. We reproduce it on our news pages without comment, as it speaks for itself.

The individuals arrested, prosecuted and sentenced in Cuba in recent days were not accused, nor were they detained, tried and sentenced for being economists, journalist, human rights activists or for expressing their opinion and dissent. They have violated laws clearly known by them that are aimed to legitimately protect Cuba from the attempt by the US Government to destabilize the country, undermine and destroy Cuba’s Constitutional order, its Government, its independence and its Socialist society.

Unfortunately Cuba is still forced to defend its independence form US aggression and to face a hostility that has escalated to dangerous levels in recent months. It is illegal in Cuba to act in detriment of the independence of the Cuban state or the integrity of its territory in the interest of a foreign state. It is illegal to render to the US government information that facilitates the implementation of the Helms-Burton law and other provisions of US hostility toward Cuba. It is illegal to seek classified information to help the implementation of Helms-Burton. It is illegal to reproduce and distribute information materials of the US government conceived to support the economic war against Cuba and disturb the internal order of the country. It is illegal to take actions in support of Helms-Burton that damage or obstruct the economic, industrial, commercial and financial relations of Cuban entities with the international community.

The US does not have the right in Cuba and should not have the right anywhere to instruct their diplomats to interfere in the domestic affairs of a foreign country. It is not acceptable to Cuba for the chief US diplomat in Havana to act as an organizer or agitator against the Government and to have Cuban citizens acting not only in complicity but also as instruments of the policy of hostility of the US against Cuba. The US Government has dedicated hundreds of millions of dollars and still dedicates millions of dollars today to destabilize the Cuban nation. It is a publicly documented fact. The actions for which these individuals have faced the law are

organized, financed, and conceived by the US government. Cuba has the right to defend itself against such powerful foe and protect the stability, security and the lives of its citizens. US hostility against Cuba has cost already hundreds of lives, pain to many families, immense economic damage and instability to the region. No country that respects itself would allow its nation to face such dangers without protection.

It is not true that the accused did not enjoy proper defense, in most cases designated by them and in the absence of such designation, assigned by the Government. It is not true that they were uninformed about the charges before the trials. It is not true that the trials were held in secret or closed doors. Relatives and other Cuban citizens were present in all of the trials. These were indeed summary trials, conducted in accordance with the law, with full guarantees and based on provisions for summary procedure similar to those existing in over one hundred countries, including the United States.

Some Governments and international figures have expressed public concern about these trials, apparently driven by lack of information, misguided advice or a double standard when looking at justice. In contrast, they express public silence in regard to the most powerful nation on Earth. No action similar to the abuses of Afghans, Arabs and citizens from different countries detained in Guantanamo base has taken place in Cuba. No secret military trial like the ones established in the United States has been nor can be carried out in Cuba. There do not exist thousands of detainees still unaware of the charges against them and whose names have not been released

in totality, as is happening in the United States since September 11, 2001.

None of the individuals tried in Cuba has been submitted to solitary confinement, to psychological torture or cruel separation from their families like the five Cuban unjustly suffering prison in the United States.

The 75 Cuban individuals and their attorneys have had full access to the information used against them by the prosecution, in contrast with the five Cubans condemned to abusive sentences in the US who are still waiting to read over 50 per cent of the documentation used to incriminate them because it was declared secret.

This is not an issue of human rights, liberty or freedom of expression; it is about the right of a nation to build a just society protected from foreign aggression. International Law is on Cuba’s side. The government that has supported some of the most brutal regimes of the 20th century, that disregards international law, that steps over the UN, that carries out a criminal war for economic and geopolitical ambitions, that possesses the greatest arsenals of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons cannot and should not be allowed to assume that Cuba’s integrity and sovereignty are for sale.

Carlos Fernandez de Cossio

Ambassador of Cuba

Spectre unequivocally condemns the death penalty meted out on the terrorists who hijacked a Cuban ship, as we condemn without reserve all use of the death penalty for any reason by any state anywhere. We regard the rest as an internal matter and the sentences concomitant to the offence of conspiring with a foreign power to overthrow the government. We are aware that not everyone on the left shares this view, and welcome and would publish constructive criticism of these events or any other aspect of Cuban government policy.

US back in nuclear bomb-making business

The United States says it has regained the capability to make nuclear weapons for the first time in 14 years and has resumed production of plutonium parts for bombs. Read the full scary story, though not just before bedtime, at http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/04/23/1050777304686.html

Earth Day In The Shadow Of War

Militarism And Environmental Destruction Go Hand In Hand

"With Kyoto in shambles and environmental laws under assault, Earth Day 2003 hardly possesses the feel-good air that hovered over the celebrations of the 1990s. More than ever, honoring the natural world impels us to resist those in power. With festivities taking place in the shadow of war, this Earth Day must also be a call for peace." Read the rest of Mark Engler's take on the Morons of Evil at http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Articles4/Engler_Environment-Militarism.htm