Bahamas Blog International
More Penalties for Employers of Illegal Immigrants in The Bahamas
Related to country: Bahamas
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PM: Stiffer penalties for employers of illegal immigrants -
By ERICA WELLS, Guardian News Editor:
Nassau, Bahamas -
Employers hiring illegal immigrants could soon face more public penalties as the government works to reign in the number of illegal immigrants that flock to Bahamian shores every year.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, who believes that the country's immigration problem is fueled by Bahamians who employ illegal immigrants, told The Nassau Guardian that the government is expected to revise the existing laws, and will put the public on notice that the laws will be enforced.
"If there were no jobs, they would not be coming here," said the prime minister.
"We are going to give notice so that people would know that it is not just going to be a slap on the wrist, that the (the illegal immigrant) will be taken to the detention center and deported and I can't walk on the street like I've done nothing wrong," he added.
"Society will know this person was working for 'Hubert Ingraham' and he was found guilty... and let that be a warning to others not to be doing the same thing."
While thousands of immigrants are picked up and deported each year for working in The Bahamas illegally, punishment for those hiring the immigrants appeared to be rarely enforced or at least not publicized.
Just yesterday, hundreds of Haitian immigrants were picked up off southern New Providence in an overloaded sloop. Some are feared dead while at least eight others were taken to hospital to be treated for injuries.
According to the latest statistics, from January to June 2008, 685 illegal immigrants were apprehended - the large majority of whom were Haitian nationals. Over the past eight years, close to 16,000 illegal Haitians were picked up, according to the Royal Bahamas Defence Force.
Exact figures for the number of illegal immigrants living in The Bahamas are unavailable; however, estimates have put the number of illegals living in the country anywhere from 60,000 to 70,000, but some believe that number could be much higher.
And as far as quantifying just how many illegal immigrants are living in The Bahamas, the Prime Minister Ingraham said that could be very difficult to determine, if not impossible.
Statistics relating to legal Haitians living in The Bahamas was at 11,000 in 1980. The last official count was around 21,000 in the year 2000.
Ingraham said the government was aggressively seeking to first prevent the flow of illegal immigrants, and when they are found, to repatriate them.
"Systematically, everyday, we seek to find and cause to be repatriated illegal immigrants from The Bahamas, whatever their nationality," said Ingraham, who noted that the fleet of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force has been expanded — two vessels were added last week and two more are expected next month.
Ingraham also pointed out that as aggressive as officials will be in their attempts to bring the immigration problem under control, they will always operate within international standards and laws.
"We will deal with humans humanely," said the prime minister. "We will not go (to their homes) in the middle of the night, we will not go to their churches or around hospitals or hanging around schools. We are not of that ilk."
Bahamians and Other Caribbean Citizens Want More Information on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with European Union Countries
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More information needed on EPA:
Nassau Guardian Editorial -
A number of concerned citizens have been expressing their opinions on the intriguing yet controversial Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). While those who have some idea of what it entails, there are others who state they do not understand and are requiring that the government and business leaders explain what will happen if The Bahamas signs on to such a treaty.
Just recently, a local economic activist was publicly stating his support of a petition which calls for the EPA to be renegotiated. Paul Moss, chairman of Bahamians Agitating for a Referendum on Free Trade (BARF), revealed that he and other members of his organization have signed the online petition which questions the trade agreement.
The petition, which can be found at ipetitions.com
, is sponsored by regional civil organizations in the Caribbean that are deeply concerned about the EPA.
Supporters of the petition include members of CARIFORUM states (CARICOM and the Dominican Republic). Since the petition began on July 1, more than 270 people have signed on, demanding their governments take a closer look at the EPA.
The petition specifically calls for regional governments to limit the EPA only to what is required to make it World Trade Organization (WTO) compatible; make specific legally-binding provisions in the EPA for financial and technical assistance from the European Commission, to be used in the development of industries such as agriculture and services; insert legally binding criteria designed to measure the socio-economic impacts of the EPA on key segments of society – women, youth children, farmers, workers and fisher-folk; and a mandatory review of the EPA provisions that allow for the possibility of renegotiation; within three years of signature of the agreement.
In May of this year, a number of Bahamians assembled in Rawson Square for a peaceful protest against the government in which several of them were under the impression that our nation's leaders had already signed the agreement.
They contend that they wanted to know what the government was doing about EPA and that once they knew, they would then know how to proceed with their lives, especially those who expressed fear over the nation's job market being overrun by foreign workers.
Some felt that even though one can understand some of their concerns, the fact that they were speaking out on an issue in which they were 'misinformed' needed to be addressed, proving that the Bahamian public must be further educated on what the EPA is all about and the government must stress, on a more national level, what plans they have for the future regarding this controversial trade agreement.
Responding to the public's concerns about EPA, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham noted in the House of Assembly that the government wants the Bahamian public to be fully informed on the context of this crucial decision which will have to be made shortly and that they (government) has committed themselves to 'diligently' provide the Bahamian public with a comprehensive briefing.
"It is an issue on which we, as a democracy, shall take an informed decision and not one based on poor and misleading information. My government and its agencies will continue to work very hard to fully inform the Bahamian public and their parliamentary representatives before any final decisions are taken."
However, Moss says that BARF signed the petition because they felt that the EPA is not in the best interest of The Bahamas and needs to be renegotiated, or that The Bahamas needs to take a different route of negotiation.
The EPA is designed to open up trade between ACP countries (Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific) with European Union countries. The Bahamas government initialed the trade agreement on December 16, 2007. The government has yet to strategize and finalize its service offer. And, now it seems as if there are some who feel that they should not continue with it all.
Marijuana Use and Cultivation on the Rise in The Bahamas
Related to country: Bahamas
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Marijuana Use and Cultivation on the Rise:
By VIRAJ PERPALL -
A noted rise in the cultivation and teen usage of marijuana in the Bahamas is prompting government officials to begin surveys once again in schools to find out how many youth are involved in the soliciting of illegal drugs and drug abuse.
According to Deputy Director Designate of the Anti-Drug Secretariat Terrance Fountain, studies in The Bahamas have shown that marijuana is the drug of choice by far, for teenage senior high school youth – an issue he claims that has far reaching social implications far beyond high school.
In a recent interview with The Bahama Journal Mr. Fountain said that though The Bahamas has been regarded generally as a transit country for illegal drugs, he added that the cultivation of marijuana in recent times has gone up.
He said that this calls for great concern seeing that marijuana is proven to be the most popular illegal drug for teenagers and young men.
"While the last school drug survey was done in 2002 I don’t suspect much would have changed in terms of experimentation with marijuana which by far is the drug of choice within our schools and among our young people," Mr. Fountain said.
He said that a high school drug survey is currently being organized and prepared for the coming fall school semester as many young people in schools are at risk to the drug.
Mr. Fountain who has specific responsibility for the National Drug Observatory, the statistics research and information arm of the Anti-Drug Secretariat, said that the issue of drug abuse cannot be properly addressed until proper research is done on the topic.
He said that from the last school drug survey it was discovered that between 15 per cent and 20 per cent of young people in The Bahamas had experimented with marijuana at least once in their lifetime.
He said that even within the school arena, some populations of students are more susceptible for marijuana use than others.
"We can’t paint everyone with a broad brush, if this is a population that is more susceptible than our activities and efforts need to be directed towards that group.
"Not ignoring the others but putting the focus where the focus should be. As it is right now, it is more amongst males and older male young people," he said.
He added that the gender ratio of males to females going into The College of the Bahamas is also directly related to this occurrence.
Mr. Fountain said that the need for more drug research in The Bahamas is rising and added that his responsibility will be to supply information needed by the government and various other organized bodies.
"There will be a need for indicators at the national level to give an indication of where we (The Bahamas) are in our efforts in the fight against drugs. And that will put us in a position where we can plan more appropriately.
"We can assist the policy makers and it will put us in a position where we can monitor and evaluate and determine how effective we (The Bahamas) will be in the fight against drugs," Mr. Fountain said.
Mr. Fountain said that only when proper research is put into perspective will officials see whether or not anti-drug efforts in The Bahamas are assisting in the fight against illegal drugs.
He said that only then will the answers to many questions come such as: "What is going on with our students? Are the anti-drug efforts taking place in our schools bearing fruit? Is the proportion of people who experiment with drugs for the first time up or down? What proportion of those people who experiment will go on to continue to use drugs?"
Mr. Fountain said that one of the questions he asked the young people in the past surveys was ‘where do you get your information form?’
He said that from the responses, he found that the older young people get, the more they learn about drugs from friends and get information on drug use from the Internet and other sources.
"I think we have a long way to go with our respect to our educational efforts on drug abuse. We need to be more specific with the message and segment that message to everyone who needs to get it.
This has to be supported by laws and policies Mr. Fountain added.
He added that he is pleased with the fight against illegal drugs in recent times in The Bahamas and said that drug seizures are an indication of the in-country effort to fight illegal drugs.
Just last week law enforcement in Grand Bahama seized over $2 million from a Grand Bahama construction worker.
The man was taken into custody after being found in possession of more than $2.3 million dollars in cash, police reported Thursday.
The 50-year-old man of Haitian origin was placed under arrest from last Monday. That’s when police allegedly found him in possession of $2,378,213 dollars in cash – all but $18,495 in U.S. currency, according to Acting Assistant Commissioner of Police Hulan Hanna.
Officers from the Central Detective and Drug Enforcement Units arrived at the man’s #2 Royal Palm Apartment, located on Fortune Drive in Freeport, around 9 pm Monday, he said.
Officers were alerted to the scene after someone tripped an alarm at the complex Mr. Hanna said.
28 July, 2008
The two Koreas - Part II
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REFLECTIONS OF FIDEL:
ON October 19, 1950, more than 400,000 voluntary Chinese combatants, on orders from Mao Zedong, crossed the Yalu and waylaid the US troops that were advancing towards the Chinese border. The US units, surprised by the vigorous response of the country that they had underestimated, were forced to withdraw toward a region near the southern coast, pushed back by the joint action of the Chinese and North Korean forces. Stalin, who was immensely cautious, offered far less support than Mao had anticipated, though the MiG-15 aircrafts piloted by the Soviets over a limited 42.5-miles front, proved valuable help during the initial stage of the conflict in protecting land forces during their intrepid advance. Pyongyang was again recovered and Seoul re-occupied once more, attempting to fight back the incessant onslaught of the US Air Force, the most powerful that has ever existed.
McArthur was anxious to attack China with nuclear weapons. He called for their use following the shameful defeat they had tasted. President Truman saw no other choice but to dismiss him from his command and appoint General Matthews Ridgeway head of US air, sea and land forces in the theater of operations. Next to the United States, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Greece, Canada, Turkey, Ethiopia, South Africa, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Colombia took part in the imperialist adventure. Colombia, then under the unitary government of conservative Laureano Gómez, who was responsible for the mass slaughter of peasants, was the only Latin American country involved. As we said, the Ethiopia of Haile Selassie, where slavery still existed, and a South Africa still under the domination of white racists, also took part in the invasion.
It was barely five years since the world slaughter that began in September 1939 had come to an end on August 1945. Following bloody combat in Korean territory, Parallel 38 once again became the border separating the North and South. It is estimated that, in that war, about two million North Koreans, nearly half a million or one million Chinese and more than one million allied soldiers perished. Around 44 thousand US soldiers lost their lives. More than a few of them had been born in Puerto Rico or other Latin American countries, recruited to take part in a war they were driven to by their condition as poor immigrants.
Japan was to reap many benefits from the conflict. In the space of one year, industrial output grew by 50 % and, within two years, it again reached pre-war production levels. What didn't change, however, was how the acts of genocide committed by the imperial troops in Korea were perceived. The governments of Japan have paid tribute to the acts of genocide carried out by their soldiers, who, in China, had raped tens of thousands of women and brutally murdered hundreds of thousands of people, as was explained in a reflection.
Hard-working and tenacious, the Japanese have transformed their country, bereft of oil and other important raw materials, into the second most powerful economy in the world.
Japan's GDP, measured in capitalist terms, though the data varies according to different Western sources, is today over $4.5 trillion, and the country has over one trillion in hard currency reserves. This is twice China’s GDP, of $2.2 trillion, even though China has 50% more hard currency reserves than Japan. The GDP of the United States, of $12.4 trillion, for a country with 34.6 times more territory and 2.3 times Japan’s population, is only three times that of Japan. Its government is today one of imperialism's main allies, at a time when it is threatened by economic recession and the sophisticated weapons of the superpower put at risk the entire human species.
These are historical lessons which cannot be forgotten.
The war, however, took a considerable toll on China. Truman instructed the 6th Fleet to prevent the landing of Chinese revolutionary forces that would result in the complete emancipation of their country by reclaiming the 0.3 percent of their territory that had been occupied by the rest of the pro-Yankee forces of Chiang Kai-shek that had fled there.
Sino-Soviet relations were to deteriorate later, following the death of Stalin, in March 1953. The revolutionary movement split nearly everywhere. The dramatic call issued by Ho Chi Minh made evident the damage that had been done, and imperialism, through its immense media apparatus, fuelled the fires of extremism among false revolutionary theoreticians, an area in which US intelligence agencies were to become experts.
With the arbitrary division, North Korea had been dealt the most mountainous part of the country. Every grain of food had to be reaped through sweat and sacrifice. Pyongyang, the capital, had been razed to the ground. Many people who had been wounded or mutilated during the war were in need of medical attention. They were enduring a blockade and had no resources available. The Soviet Union and other countries of the socialist bloc were in the process of recovering from the war.
When I arrived in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on March 7, 1986, nearly 33 years following the destruction caused by the war, it was still difficult to believe what had occurred there. That heroic people had constructed myriad things: large and small dams and canals to store water in, generate electricity, service cities and irrigate fields; thermoelectric plants, large mechanical and other types of industries, many of them underground in the depths of the bedrock, all created through hard, methodical labor. Because of cooper and aluminum shortages, they had been forced to use iron to create electricity-guzzling transmission lines, iron which, in part, was produced from coal. The capital and other cities that had been devastated were reconstructed, inch by inch. I estimated that millions of new homes had been built in urban and rural areas and that tens of thousands of other kinds of facilities had been set up. Countless hours of work were contained in stone, concrete, steel, wood, synthetic products and machinery. The fields that I had the opportunity to see, wherever I went, looked like gardens. Well-dressed, organized and enthusiastic people were everywhere, ready to greet visitors. The country deserved cooperation and peace.
There was no issue I didn't discuss with my illustrious host Kim Il Sung. I shall never forget him.
Korea was divided into two parts by an imaginary line. The South was to have a different experience. It was the more densely populated part and endured less destruction during the war. The presence of an enormous foreign military force required the supply of local manufactured goods and other products, from crafts to fresh fruits and vegetables, not to mention services. The military spending of the allies was huge. The same thing occurred when the United States decided to retain extensive military forces in the country indefinitely. During the Cold War, Western and Japanese transnationals invested considerable sums of money, siphoning out incalculable wealth from the sweat of South Koreans, a people who are as hard-working and industrious as their brothers and sisters in the North. The great markets of the world were open to their products. They were not blockaded. Today, the country has high levels of technology and productivity. It has suffered the economic crises of the West, following which many South Korean companies were taken over by transnationals. The austere nature of its people has allowed the State to accumulate significant reserves in hard currency. Today, it is enduring the United States' economic depression, particularly the high prices of oil and food, and the inflationary pressures from both.
South Korea's GDP –$787.6 billion– is almost equal to that of Brazil ($796 billion) and Mexico ($768 billion), countries with abundant hydrocarbon reserves and incomparably larger populations. Imperialism imposed its system upon these nations. Two fell behind; the other made much more progress.
There is hardly any emigration from South Korea to the West. There is emigration en masse from Mexico to what is currently US territory. From Brazil, South and Central America, people emigrate everywhere, in search of employment and lured by consumerist propaganda. Today, they are being rewarded with rigorous and contemptuous laws.
The principled position on nuclear weapons supported by Cuba within the Non-Aligned Movement, ratified during the Summit Conference held in Havana in August 2006, is well known.
I met the current leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kim Jong Il, when I arrived at the Pyongyang airport. He was standing discretely beside his father, to one side of the red carpet. Cuba maintains excellent relations with his government.
When the Soviet Union and the socialist bloc collapsed, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea lost important markets and sources of oil, raw materials and equipment. As in Cuba’s case, the consequences were severe. The progress that had been attained through great sacrifices was at risk. In spite of this, they showed themselves capable of constructing a nuclear weapon.
When the nuclear test was conducted around a year ago, we conveyed to the government of North Korea our points of view on the damage this could cause poor Third World countries that were waging an unequal and difficult battle against imperialist designs at a decisive moment for the world. It might not have been necessary. Kim Song Il, at that point, had already decided beforehand what he had to do, mindful of the geographic and strategic characteristics of the region.
We are pleased to see North Korea’s statement of its intention to suspend its nuclear weapons program. This has nothing to do with the crimes and the blackmail of Bush, who is now touting the declaration as proof of the success of his policy of genocide. North Korea's gesture was not aimed at the government of the United States, before which it never yielded one inch, but, rather, at China, a neighboring ally, whose security and development is vital for the two States.
Third World countries are interested in the friendship and cooperation between China and the two Koreas, whose union need not be from coast to coast, as was the case of Germany, currently a US ally in NATO. Step by step, unhurriedly but indefatigably, as befits their culture and history, they will continue to weave the ties that will unite the two Koreas. With South Korea, we are developing more and more ties. With North Korea, these have always existed and we shall continue to strengthen them.
Fidel Castro Ruz
July 24, 2008
Translated by ESTI
The Two Koreas
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Reflections of Fidel:
PART I -
THE Korean nation, with its unique culture that differentiates it from its Chinese and Japanese neighbors, has existed for three thousand years. These characteristics are typical of societies in that Asian region, including those of China, Vietnam and others. There is nothing like it in Western cultures, some of which are less than 250 years old.
In the war of 1894, the Japanese had seized from China its control over the Korean dynasty and turned its territory into a Japanese colony. Protestantism was introduced into this country in the year 1892, following an agreement between the United States and the Korean authorities. On the other hand, Catholicism was introduced in the same century by missionaries. It is estimated that today in South Korea, around 25 percent of the population is Christian and a similar percentage is Buddhist. The philosophy of Confucius had a great influence on the spirit of Koreans, who are not characterized by fanatical religious practices.
Two important figures stand out in that nation’s political life in the 20th century: Syngman Rhee, born in March of 1875, and Kim Il Sung, born 37 years later in April of 1912. Both personalities, of different social background, confronted each other due to historical circumstances that had nothing to do with either of them.
The Christians opposed the Japanese colonial system. One of them was Syngman Rhee, who was an actively practicing Protestant. Korea changed its status: Japan annexed its territory in 1910. Years later, in 1919, Rhee was appointed president of the provisional government in exile, headquartered in Shanghai, China. He never used weapons against the invaders. The League of Nations in Geneva paid no attention to him.
The Japanese Empire was brutally repressive with the Korean population. The patriots took up arms against the Japanese colonialist policy and succeeded in liberating a small area in the mountain region of the north at the end of the 1890’s.
Kin Il Sung, born in the vicinity of Pyongyang, joined the Korean Communist guerrillas to fight the Japanese at the age of 18. In his active revolutionary life, he attained the position of political and military leader of the anti-Japanese combatants in North Korea, at the young age of 33.
During World War II, the United States decided the fate of Korea in the post-war period. It joined the conflict when it was attacked by one of its own creatures, the Empire of the Rising Sun, whose tight feudal gates were opened by Commodore Perry in the first half of the 19th century, aiming his cannons at the strange Asian country that refused to trade with America.
The outstanding disciple later became a powerful rival, as I have already explained on another occasion. Decades later, Japan successively struck at China and Russia, additionally taking over Korea. Nevertheless it was an astute ally for the victors of World War I, at the expense of China. It amassed forces and, transformed into the Asian version of fascist Nazism, attempted to occupy Chinese territory in 1937 and attacked the United States in December of 1941; it brought the war to Southeast Asia and Oceania.
The colonial domains of Britain, France, Holland and Portugal in the region were doomed and the United States emerged as the most powerful country in the world, matched only by the Soviet Union then destroyed by World War II and by the heavy material and human losses resulting from the Nazi attack. The Chinese Revolution was about to conclude in 1945 when the world massacre ceased.
The united anti-Japanese combat was taking up its energy then. Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Gandhi, Sukarno and other leaders later carried on the fight against the restoration of the old world order which was already unsustainable. Truman dropped the nuclear bomb on two civilian Japanese cities; this was a terribly destructive new weapon whose existence they had not reported to their Soviet ally, as has been explained, one which had been the major contributor to the destruction of fascism.
Nothing justified the genocide committed, not even the fact that the tenacious Japanese resistance had taken the lives of almost 15,000 American soldiers on the Japanese island of Okinawa. Japan was already defeated, and that weapon, had it been dropped on a military target, would have sooner or later had the same demoralizing effect on the Japanese military machine without any more casualties among U.S. soldiers. It was an act of indescribable terror.
Soviet soldiers were advancing on Manchuria and North Korea, just as they had promised when fighting ceased in Europe. The allies had defined beforehand the point each army could reach. The dividing line would be in the middle of Korea, equidistant between the Yalu River and the southern end of the peninsula. The U.S. government negotiated with the Japanese the rules that would govern the surrendering of troops on their own territory.
Japan would be occupied by the United States. In Korea, annexed to Japan, a large force of the powerful Japanese army would remain. South of the 38th Parallel, the established dividing line, U.S. interests prevailed. Syngman Rhee, reincorporated into that part of the territory by the U.S. government, was the leader the Americans supported, with the open cooperation of the Japanese. That is how he won the hard-fought election of 1948. That year, the soldiers of the Soviet Army had pulled out of North Korea.
On June 25, 1950 war broke out in the country. It is still unclear who fired the first shot, whether it was the combatants in the North or the American soldiers on duty with soldiers recruited by Rhee. The argument does not make any sense if one analyzes it from the Korean angle. Kim Il Sung’s soldiers fought against the Japanese for the liberation of all Korea.
His armies advanced irrepressibly to the far reaches to the South where the Yankees were defending themselves with the massive back-up of their fighter planes. Seoul and other cities had been occupied. MacArthur, commander-in-chief of U.S. forces in the Pacific, decided to order a Marine landing at Incheon, at the rearguard of Northern forces which by then were in no condition to counterattack. Pyongyang fell into the hands of Yankee forces, preceded by devastating air strikes.
That fostered the idea of the U.S. military command in the Pacific to occupy all of Korea, since the Peoples’ Liberation Army of China, lead by Mao Zedong had inflicted a resounding defeat on the pro-Yankee forces of Chiang Kai-shek, supplied and supported by the United States. The entire continental and maritime territory of that great country had been recovered, with the exception of Taipei and other small near-by islands where Kuomintang forces found refuge after being transported there by vessels of the Sixth Fleet.
The history of what happened then is well known today. It should not be forgotten that Boris Yeltsin handed over to Washington the Soviet Union archives, among other things.
What did the United States do when the virtually inevitable conflict broke out under the premises created in Korea? It portrayed the northern part of that country as the aggressor. The Security Council of the recently created United Nations Organization, promoted by the victorious powers of W. W. II, passed a resolution that none of the five members could veto. Precisely in those months, the USSR had expressed its disagreement with the exclusion of China from the Security Council, where the United States was recognizing Chiang Kai-Shek, with less than 0.3 percent of national territory and less than 2 percent of the population, as a member of that Council and with a right to the veto.
Such arbitrariness led to the absence of the Russian delegate, with the result that the Council agreed to give the war the character of a UN military action against the alleged aggressor: the Peoples’ Republic of Korea. China, completely outside the conflict, which was affecting its unfinished fight for the total liberation of the country, saw the threat hovering directly against its own territory, this being unacceptable for its security. According to public information, Prime Minister Zhou Enlai was sent to Moscow to inform Stalin of China’s point of view as to the inadmissibility of the presence of UN forces under U.S. command on the banks of the Yalu River which marks Korea's border with China, and to request Soviet cooperation. At the time there were no profound contradictions between the two Socialist giants.
It has been affirmed that China’s response was planned for the October 13 and that Mao postponed it to the 19th, awaiting the Soviet reply. That was as long as he could put it off.
I intend to finish this reflection next Friday. It is a complex and laborious subject which requires special care and information that is as precise as possible. These are historical events that should be known and remembered.
Fidel Castro Ruz
July 22, 2008.
Translated by ESTI
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