Cuba and winds of change

The following comments relate to an article I read in the May 21 issue of Granma International about recent discussion in Congress.

Winds of change are blowing in regard to U.S./Cuba relations. To quote U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), “It is time to change the law and allow U.S. industries to explore and extract resources in ‘our own region’ before foreign companies monopolize potentially profitable resources.”

The problem exists in the application of an interventionist attitude that everything south of the Rio Grande be exclusively controlled by U.S. Big Business interests. How else could such an arrogant, unjust law as the Helms-Burton Act (1996) be passed by a Democratic administration?

The ideas of equity, justice and dignity of the people, expressed by Jose Marti in an essay written in 1891, reflect on the threatening nature of imperialism. The turn to the left in Latin America should be interpreted as a return to the concept that natural resources and biodiversity in “Our America” belong to all its peoples.

The possibility to uproot a 45-year-old blockade will occur only when U.S. government officials admit that Cuba is a sovereign, independent country like every other nation. Their government has earned the support and admiration of the international community. We must urge Congress to do the same.

Richard Grassl
Auburn WA
The author is a union carpenter.

Is Gitmo closing or just moving to Afghanistan?

A friend just e-mailed me an article that Gitmo was closing. Is it? Or just moving to another place? While in Afghanistan with Global Exchange, I visited a lot of nongovernmental organizations and at one of them someone mentioned that the U.S. was building a prison outside of Kabul that would hold Afghan Guantanamo prisoners. According to them, it’s being administered by the Justice Sector Support Program of the U.S. State Department.

Jane Stillwater
Via e-mail

Standing for what’s right

Years ago I was giving a friend who was visiting a ride from Midway Airport. As we drove through one of the many destitute areas of Chicago I noticed my friend became very quiet and looked sad. I asked what was wrong. He told me, “James if people won’t fight back against this kind of poverty and exploitation, there is no hope.” I thought about what he had said and then speculated, “It’s not that they will not fight, it’s just that they don’t know how.”

Another time I was telling someone about the situation where the CIA at one time was funding the Khmer Rouge, and the U.S. Air Force bombing that killed perhaps 200,000 people in Kampuchea, etc. This person listened with interest but finally told me that she could not stand to hear anymore, it was just so terrible to know how despicable our government has acted.

I compare that reaction to what I felt when I realized that there is no God. The truth that there is no God, no soul, nothing supernatural can be a very bitter pill to swallow but at the same time it can be a very liberating truth, because then I understood that the future is in our hands.

It has been suggested that perhaps 50,000 children die each day from the effects of malnutrition and preventable disease. Nobody can tell me that a better world than this is not possible. I always wanted to dedicate my life to helping people and making this world a better place. I know that cause is right. Even if the day comes when nobody else believes, I will still believe.

James Wagner
Via e-mail

Dellums and health care

Marilyn Bechtel’s excellent article on “Mayor-elect Dellums: Oakland ‘can be a great city,’” (PWW 6/24-30) mentions a few of the congressman’s achievements. In 1975, Rep. Dellums addressed the 50,000-member American Public Health Association annual meeting where 13,000 of the membership showed up. The meeting was in New Orleans. At the meeting he announced his National Health Service Act introduced into Congress and APHA endorsed it. This legislation was launched alongside the Kennedy-Griffiths national health insurance legislation.

For the past 30 plus years that national health legislation has been introduced into Congress, most recently by Rep. Barbara Lee, Dellums’ successor in Congress.

Phil E. Benjamin
New York NY

Yucca Mountain dirty bomb?

The U.S. federal government is building the world’s largest dirty bomb at Yucca Mountain where over 77,000 tons of plutonium, uranium and other radioactive materials are to be stored in 392-degree “F casks” in tunnels that will be hot enough to evaporate minor leaks. The layer of porous rock above the tunnels is advertised as beneficial, but it can hold large quantities of water after heavy rains. Two earthquake faults intersect both the porous layer and the planned tunnels. If an earthquake were to occur, Yucca Mountain could experience a steam explosion similar to Mount St. Helens, but with deadly fallout as dust and rain.

Nuclear power can be beneficial, but not with underground storage systems. Basalt internment or recycling into the Earth’s core along subduction zones are safer and less expensive methods.

Bill Holmes
Portland OR

Paris Commune monument

The June 17 issue of PWW had a photo of the “Monument to the Martyrs of the Paris Commune.” This is truly one of the most beautiful works of art I have ever seen. After almost an hour of online research, I learned that it was sculpted into the same wall that the communards were lined up and shot against. But I could find no mention of who the sculptor was. Perhaps it was not a famous artist but an anonymous tombstone-carver, possessed of great genius and empathy. Any information you could give me would be much appreciated. Thanks.

Jerry Allison
Via e-mail